What does the campfire in the forest represent? How is this fire different from other fires depicted in the novel?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As well as being a great destroyer, fire can also bring new life. In the Christian religion, fire is a symbol of purification as well as being associated with Hell. For the most part, fire in Fahrenheit 451 is associated with destruction, the destruction of books and, in some cases,...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

As well as being a great destroyer, fire can also bring new life. In the Christian religion, fire is a symbol of purification as well as being associated with Hell. For the most part, fire in Fahrenheit 451 is associated with destruction, the destruction of books and, in some cases, people's lives. Yet the fire around which the intellectual hobos sit is a source of warmth and light. The campfire represents a sense of hope for these social outcasts, banished from society for the heinous crime of reading books and thinking for themselves.

One day, these men hope to play their part in overthrowing the totalitarian regime which forces them to live a hunted existence as outlaws. In metaphorical terms they wish to start a fire of their own, a fire that will burn in the hearts of millions, causing them to rise up against this evil regime and consign it to the trashcan of history. The fire may be very small right now, but in due course, the men hope that it will be develop into a full-blown conflagration that will sweep away the current system and replace it with something better. This fire, this yearning for freedom, will not just destroy, but purify.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think that this fire represents a new life.  It represents something that the men hope will be kindled and lit by the knowledge that is inside their heads.

This fire is different from all of the other fires in the story because it is the only one that is actually meant to help people and to make life better.  All of the other fires in the story are meant to destroy.  This fire is meant to comfort the men and help them to survive.  One image of fire in our society is the comfortable fire that burns in a fireplace.  This fire is that kind of fire.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team