The opening lines to FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury are manic and magical. Montag, the protagonist is a fireman with a difference. He doesn't put out fires, he burns books; 451 Fahrenheit being the temperature at which book paper burns. And he not only burns books, he gets a kick out of it.
Bradbury employs similes and metaphors to give us insight into Montag's disturbed mind. Montag's delusions of grandeur make him appear as "...some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies...". The hose he wields becomes a "...great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world...". The burning debris flying around him becomes "...a swarm of fireflies..." through which he strides.
But Montag's beginning to question what he does and why he does it. He's someone who, in the fury of a hungry fire, notices how "...flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house.". Someone who's developing a conscience. Someone who needs to be careful.
"It was a pleasure to burn it. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning. Montag grinned the fierce grin of all men singed and driven back by flame. He knew that when he returned to the firehouse, he might wink at himself, a minstrel man, burnt-corked, in the mirror. Later, going to sleep, he would feel the fiery smile still gripped by his face muscles, in the dark. It never went away, that. smile, it never ever went away, as long as he remembered."