What is the mythological reference in Fahrenheit 451?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The mythical creature is the phoenix, which is the firemen’s logo.

A phoenix is a creature that supposedly burned and was reborn, or rose from the ashes.  Firemen have the logo on a disc on their chest and a salamander on their arms.  A salamander supposedly can live in ashes, according to myth.  The bird makes sense as the mascot and logo of the firemen because they burn the books and the items in the houses, but not the houses themselves.  The houses are fireproof, so they are like phoenixes rising from the flame. 

The phoenix comes into the conversation after the city is burned. 

"It's flat," he said, a long time later. "City looks like a heap of baking-powder. It's gone." And a long time after that. "I wonder how many knew it was coming? I wonder how many were surprised?"  (Part III) 

People were not really paying attention to the war.  It was not real.  Beatty says, “Let him forget there is such a thing as war” (Part I).   All that mattered was their entertainment.  They lived every day on a high, focusing on pleasure and making no deep connections.  They were alive, but not really living.  

Granger brings up the phoenix, a bird he says lived “back before Christ.” 

But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we're doing the same thing, over and over, but we've got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. (Part III) 

Granger says that mankind is foolish, because we keep making the same mistakes in our society. He says that “even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn't use what we got out of them.”  Montag’s society burns itself up, and it will re-emerge.  Will the new society be better than the former one?

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Fahrenheit 451

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