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An allusion is a casual reference to something that should be well-known by the reader. It is generally meant to support an explanation, to give an example. An allusion can be about the Bible, history, mythology, or literature. Bradbury uses all of these in his book.
Some historical allusions are:
1. When the woman comes out of her house and says,
"Play the man, Master Ridley: we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." (pg 36)
Later, on page 40, Beatty explains to Montag that those words were spoken by a man named Latimer to Nicholas Ridley as they were being burnt alive at Oxford for heresy on October 16, 1555. The woman said it just before she ignited and killed herself in the flames.
2. Another historical allusion is
"....when Mildred ran from the parlor like a native fleeing an eruption of Vesuvius" (pg 93)
Vesuvius was a famous volcano that erupted in AD79 destroying the city of Pompeii and all of its residents.
Another kind of allusion in the book is the literary allusion. Many of these are done when Beatty is speaking.
1. One such allusion is
"Colored people don't like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don't feel good about Uncle Tom's Cabin. Burn it." (pg 59)
These are allusions to two famous books. Little Black Sambo was criticized for racism toward black children. Uncle Tom's Cabin is an antislavery book written by Harriet Beecher Stowe that would upset white people.
2. Another literary allusion is,
"Montag stopped eating. ..., he saw their Cheshire cat smiles burning through the walls of the house...." (pg 93)
This is an allusion to the Cheshire cat character in Alice in Wonderland.
3. On pages 105-106 in my copy of the book, Beatty recites quotes from Sir Philip Sydney and Alexander Pope, both famous poets. He uses their quotes to make a point to Montag that a person can find support for both sides of an argument in literature.
Another kind of allusion or casual reference in the book is concerning the Bible.
1. When Montag is on the train on his way to visit Faber, he tries to memorize portions of the Bible but is interrupted by the advertisement blaring in the train. Montag thinks,
"Shut up, thought Montag. Consider the lilies of the field." (pg 78)
This is an allusion to the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus told the people not to worry about their worldly goods.
2. Another Biblical allusion is at the end of the book when Montag recites Revelation 22:2
"And on either side of the river was there a tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruites and yielded her fruit every month; And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." (pg 165)
He decides he will share this with the men when they reach the city.
Another kind of allusion Bradbury uses is mythological allusions. These reference famous stories of the Greek and Roman myths.
1. When Faber is talking with Montag he says,
"Do you know the legend of Hercules and Aneaeus, the giant wrestler, whose strength was incredible so long as he stood firmly on the earth? But when he was held, rootless, in midair by Hercules, he perished easily." (pg 83)
2. There is the famous reference to the phoenix, the bird that burned himself every few hundred years but
"....every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again." (pg 163)
The phoenix was a symbol on his fireman's shirt.
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