What could the books burning symbolize in Fahrenheit 451?

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According to Beatty, burning books is a way to eliminate the possibility of strife, conflict, or unpleasant feelings. In his explanation to Montag and Mildred, he says that if any book causes any person or group some unpleasant feelings, then that book should be burned. Beatty reasons that if all...

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According to Beatty, burning books is a way to eliminate the possibility of strife, conflict, or unpleasant feelings. In his explanation to Montag and Mildred, he says that if any book causes any person or group some unpleasant feelings, then that book should be burned. Beatty reasons that if all books are burned, then there is no possibility that anyone will be offended by a book. Also, as a result, with people reading less, they think less. This might decrease debates and arguments but it comes at the cost of knowledge and variety of opinions. Beatty explains how he thinks burning books establishes peace: 

Coloured people don't like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don't feel good about Uncle Tom's Cabin. Burn it. Someone's written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Bum the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. 

That is Beatty's warped position. The general lesson of this novel is that the burning of books symbolizes censorship, the loss of freedom, and the suppression of ideas. Burning books also symbolizes the destruction of creativity. Faber says "Those who don't build must burn." In this novel, the firemen burn books and effectively destroy creative work. Building is associated with creation. It is a contrast of creation versus destruction. 

In terms of imagery, the books resemble birds. "The books leapt and danced like roasted birds, their wings ablaze with red and yellow feathers." Destroying a book is like destroying a bird's ability to fly. If books are burnt, the ideas are snuffed out. Those ideas are less likely to be communicated to many people in many areas. They can not be passed on, shared, and so on. In a very real sense, ideas from books are less likely to travel. Their wings are clipped or "burnt." 

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