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Connotation is a secondary or associated understanding of a word or phrase. For example, the word religion can carry a number of diverse connotations for a lot of people. Some people might feel religion connotes warmth, affection, and family. Others might think it connotes ignorance and bigotry.
Denotation on the other hand is simply the actual definition of a word. For example: Dalmatian. It's a breed of dog that is white with black spots. For some people the word "dalmation" might have a connotation, like that they are the dogs that are always with firemen.
Speaking of firemen, Fahrenheit 451 is a book about firemen. Right from the outset, the reader recognizes that the denotation of firemen is people that put out fires. The connotation is that firemen are "good guys" that are brave, strong, and selfless. They help old ladies and rescue cats out of trees.
Bradbury flips all of that on its head when he tells the reader that firemen are in charge of destroying books by burning them. Firemen are not brave and selfless wonderful people. In Fahrenheit 451, the firemen are the antagonists of learning and knowledge.
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