What is the function of the use of many symbols in "Fahrenheit 451"?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The purpose of the symbols in "Fahrenheit 451" and in any literary work using symbols is to help express the writer's theme or ideas.  In this work, Bradbury uses symbols give the story a visual aspect as well as a written aspect.  The salamander, for example, is the name given to the firetrucks and one of the established symbols for the fire department.  Also, there is a myth that salamanders can go through fire unhurt.  Since the firemen start fires, the connection is clear.  Later, when Montag and Faber are planning to bring down the government, Montag uses the term "salamander" to refer to the establishment.  The symbols also help the reader make these connections.  When Montag is trying to memorize the Bible and the advertisement jingle prevents him, he compares his inability to retain the words to sand going through a sieve - thus the title of the second section of the novel.  This creates an analogy that most people can easily "see" and relate to.  There are several symbols in the novel and I've attached a link to a site that lists several of them.