Fahrenheit 451


5) Discuss how Montag's changing perception of fire mirrors his personal development. What theme does Bradbury seem to be expressing through Montag’s development?

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The title of the third section, "Burning Bright", references the many allusions to fire and burning in the text. First, Montag burns his home and his possessions. Ironically, Montag does not grieve the loss of his home or possessions. In contrast, he feels unburdened by releasing himself from the intrusive television walls that plagued his life. Thus, Montag's flamethrower dispenses powers of destruction and of cleansing. Before ordering him to burn down his own house, Beatty baits Montag, comparing him as Icarus and thus alluding that Montag, by harboring books, has flown too close to the sun and shall now fall to his death. With this analogy, Beatty argues that those who defy the law of the land will meet their end. Ironically, Beatty is actually the man that dies, while Montag escapes and begins a new life. When Montag kills Beatty with the flamethrower, Bradbury compares him to a charred wax doll, a description reminiscent of an earlier reference to Millie as a wax doll melting under its own heat. Later on, Montag encounters a camp fire when he meets Granger and the other intellectuals. This fire is welcoming, different from the fire Montag has always known, and shows him that fire can be a source of warmth and sustenance rather than a source of death and destruction. Finally, Montag witnesses the fire and destruction the atomic bombs bring to the city. Throughout this section, many things are "burning bright", including Montag's idealism and adherence to promoting truth and knowledge.