Symbols can be a simple or complex image that is meant to represent an idea, thought, or even set of ideas. Symbols can be obvious and intentional or subtle and unintended, but meaningful. They are a form of figurative language that hold our interest by hinting of underlying meaning and thus drawing us further into the story. Symbols ask us as a reader to think and analyze the author’s intentions. The genre of science fiction is a perfect platform for symbols with their ability to hint at underlying meaning, agendas and possibilities.
Bradbury repeats and expands specific images that become significant to understanding the story of Fahrenheit 451. (They are actually symbols that he employs over and over in other novels.)
To be succinct, a symbol in literature is the use of one thing to represent an entire set of ideas. In this novel, the central symbol is fire which first represents the extinguishing of thinking and imagination. Towards the end of the novel, the symbol changes and fire becomes a life giving force that can renew.
A few of the symbols that we have seen so far in novel would be: fire, 451, front porches, television, books, and the mechanical hound.