What is the relevance of the salamander in "Fahrenheit 451"?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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The salamander appears on Montag's fireman's shirt as a symbol of the firemen in general.  The firetrucks, in the book, are also sometimes referred to as "salamanders" because of their appearance.  The name "salamander" is from mythological origins.  The myth says that the salamander could move through fire unscathed.  Since the book, from its title which represents the temperature at which book paper burns, to the end with the destruction of the city by one big firebomb, deals with fire, the salamander is an appropriate symbol.  The daily lives of the firemen in the book's society required them to burn, to deal with fire, and not get hurt.  To take the idea even further, Guy Montag, the book's protagonist, manages to emerge in the end of the story, unscathed by the fire storm that destroyed his old society.  He changes his views from "books are bad and harmful" to "books are good and helpful".  He gets some minor hurts along the way, but he comes out OK in the end.  Just like the mythological belief about salamanders.

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