Why does the woman refuse to leave her books? What effect does this have on the firemen, particulary Montag?

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The unnamed woman refuses to leave her books because they are vital to her.  In this shallow society of the future, they are all that are valuable to her.  She is also making a statement by igniting the flames herself - that she would rather die than lose what she believes in. 

This is a pivotal moment for Montag.  For it causes him to question what the firemen are doing.  If a person could so love books and find them so important as to burn alive with them, then what is the power and mystery of books and the words they contain?  It is no wonder then that Montag stashes away one of the lady's books.

During the night he cannot sleep.  He keeps thinking about her and searching for meaning in his life.  One might wonder if Montag isn't questioning himself on whether he has anything so meaningful in his life that he would die for it.


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