In "Farhenheit 451," what is the significance of the salamander's ability to live within fire?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best example in this part of the book of the legend of the salamander is the death of the old woman who burned with her books.  The legend says that the salamander can walk through fire and not get burned, or essentially, without being killed.  The old woman refuses to leave her books. Before she is set ablaze she utters the quote, "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."  She is saying that by standing up to the firemen and refusing to leave or acknowledge that books are bad, she is making a statement that will help establish that the new law is a bad one.  She also says that her books might be burned, but they can never take the books away from her because they are in her head.  The books can never die as long as people are reading them, just like the salamander can never die.  The reading of books will never die out either.  Her body might be gone, but she is essentially dying a martyr and that sacrifice will live on and help the movement.