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In part 1, an old woman was burned in her house with the books. Why didn't she want...

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brian1218 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 28, 2009 at 10:18 AM via web

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In part 1, an old woman was burned in her house with the books. Why didn't she want to get out the house? And what is the meaning of her speech?

The Old woman's speech states: "play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God`s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."  Then Captain Beatty said something about this speech too, what is the relation between Beatty`s speech and the old woman`s speech?  Thanks

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted July 28, 2009 at 2:24 PM (Answer #1)

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In part one of "Fahrenheit 451," by Ray Bradbury,the unnamed woman not only refuses to leave her books, she lights the match which burns her books, her house and herself.  She won't leave because she would rather die free, with her books, than live in a world of oppression and without the freedom of thought the books symbolize.

According to the information Beatty gives his firemen on the way back to the firehouse,

"A man named Latimer said those words to Nicholas Ridley, as they were being burnt alive at Oxford, for heresy, on October 16, 1555."

Beatty is aware of much of the literature used to promote the concept of freedom of thought and freedom of speech.  His belief is that it is necessary to burn books because these ideas make people think for themselves and that is dangerous to the control of the society.  Freedom of thought makes people unique and different. In Beatty's mind this is dangerous.

It is ironic that the woman is willing to die for the right to read and think for herself and she uses the speech as her last testament to that freedom, while Beatty uses literary quotes to justify his job of burning the books and taking away this freedom of thought.

"We must all be alike. Not everyone is born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone is made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it."

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