What are some similes in part three ("Burning Bright") of Farenheit 451? 

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jenniehissom eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You can find a number of similes in the third part of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 if you know how to spot them.

Similes are a specific literary device that draw direct comparisons using “like” or “as.” This differentiates them from metaphors, which eliminate the use of a preposition and directly compare two items by equating them. A simile would say a plane is like a bird; a metaphor would say a plane is a bird. Or the metaphor would bypass stating that a plane is a bird, and just name the plane “bird,” as in, “The metal bird full of people glided beneath the clouds.” Both of these forms of comparison are used often and sometimes together in literature, so make sure you find “like” or “as” in any comparison you identify as a simile.

In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury uses metaphor and simile in combination. For example, in this passage that begins on page 117 and continues on page 118, Bradbury compares a highway to a river using simile, and then to a stage using metaphor.

“He ran steadily for six blocks in the alley and then the alley opened out onto a wide empty thoroughfare ten lanes wide. It seemed like a boatless river frozen there in the raw light of the high white arc lamps; you could drown trying to cross it, he felt; it was too wide, it was too open. It was a vast stage without scenery, inviting him to run across, easily seen in the blazing illumination, easily caught, easily shot down.”

On page 119, Bradbury’s character Montag returns to the boulevard and again contemplates it using metaphor:

“There it lay, a game for him to win, a vast bowling alley in the cool morning. The boulevard was as clean as the surface of an arena two minutes before the appearance of certain unnamed victims and certain unknown killers.”

He metaphorically refers to the street as a game and a bowling alley in the first sentence. But the second sentence, despite offering a comparison with the word "as," does NOT contain a simile. The sentence certainly performs the function of a simile, helping the reader see the street as perhaps an ancient Roman gladiator theatre, but does not DIRECTLY compare the street to an arena. Instead of stating “The boulevard was as an arena,” Bradbury only says it is as clean as one, keeping the comparison just a smidge too indirect to be considered a proper simile. So once you have spotted a “like” or “as,” make sure there is a direct comparison before you identify a simile.

Some additional examples of similes from part three of Fahrenheit 451 are listed below:

  • (p. 108) "There was a crash like the falling parts of a dream fashioned out of warped glass, mirrors, and crystal prisms."
  • (p. 114) "It was half across the lawn, coming from the shadows, moving with such drifting ease that it was like a single solid cloud of black-grey smoke blown at him in silence."
  • (p. 115) "The other was like a chunk of burnt pine log he was carrying along for penance for some obscure sin."

For additional help identifying similes, visit the Purdue University OWL tutoring site via the link listed below.  And for more on Fahrenheit 451, please explore the enotes literature guide, also linked to below.

All page numbers given in this answer refer to the paperback 60th anniversary edition of the novel printed in 2013.

jgilles | Student

A simile is a direct comparison between two different things, usually using “like” or “as.”

I have the 60th anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012. Print.

Though I have included some great examples, this list is not exhaustive and I am certain you will be able to seek out more similes for yourself in the text!

“The books leapt and danced like roasted birds, their wings ablaze with red and yellow feathers” (110).

“There was a hiss like  a great mouthful of spittle banging a red-hot stove, a bubbling and frothing as if salt had been poured over a monstrous black snail to cause a terrible liquefaction and a boiling over of yellow foam” (113).

“His flesh gripped him and shrank as if it had been plunged in acid” (116).

“He felt so suddenly shocked by this that he felt Faber was really dead, baked like a roach in that small green capsule shoved and lost in the pocket of a man who was now nothing but a frame skeleton strung with asphalt tendons” (117).

“On his way across town, with the helicopters fluttering like torn bits of paper in the sky, he phoned the alarm at a lonely phone booth outside a store that was closed for the night” (123).

Read the study guide:
Fahrenheit 451

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