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"Play the man Master Ridley." In the first section the old lady says this. Why did the...

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izze | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 24, 2009 at 10:25 AM via web

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"Play the man Master Ridley." In the first section the old lady says this. Why did the old lady say this and what did she want to accomplish?

Fahrenheit 451

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 24, 2009 at 11:19 AM (Answer #1)

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The lady quotes a 16th Century British Clergyman Hugh Latimer who said:

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.

Later, Captain Beatty will tell Montag (pg. 40):

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

The woman burned knows her history from reading books, which is the heresy of the future world in F451.  The quote reveals a willingness to martyr oneself for personal beliefs which go against the state.  The lines also reveal light imagery, which is ironic, since she is being burned along with the books.  But the candle is symbolic of an awareness for those witnessing the execution and hope that they will continue the fight of the condemned heretics.  The woman does indeed reap a convert in Montag, who begins to hide books thereafter.

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