Granger compares mankind to the phoenix, a mythological creature that is consumed by fire only to rise from its own ashes in a cycle that it repeats eternally. He suggests that man’s advantage over the phoenix is his ability to recognize when he has made a mistake, so that eventually he will learn not to repeat it. Remembering the mistakes of the past is the task that Granger and his group have set for themselves. They believe that the collective memory represented by books is the key to mankind’s survival, and that this shared culture is more important than any individual.
At the end of the novel, Granger remarks that they should build a mirror factory so mankind can look at itself. This recalls Montag’s description of Clarisse as a mirror in the beginning of “The Hearth and the Salamander.” Mirrors are a symbol of self-understanding, of seeing oneself clearly. They can also multiply and propagate images, as reading and memorizing books multiplies the identities and lives of Granger and the others.
As they walk upriver to find survivors, Montag knows they will eventually talk, and he tries to remember passages from the Bible appropriate to the occasion. He brings to mind Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season,” and also Revelations 22:2, “And on either side of the river was there a tree of life . . . and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations,” which he decides to save for when they reach the city. The verse from Revelations refers to the holy city of God, and the last line of the book, “When we reach the city,” implies a strong symbolic connection between the atomic holocaust of Montag’s world and the Apocalypse of the Bible.