And I thought about books. And for the first time I realized that a man was behind each one of the books. A man had to think them up. A man had to take a long time to put them down on paper. And I’d never even thought that thought...
And I thought about books. And for the first time I realized that a man was behind each one of the books. A man had to think them up. A man had to take a long time to put them down on paper. And I’d never even thought that thought before.
These words are spoken by Montag to Mildred the night after he and the other fireman burned some books and with them, the old lady who owned them. Books were so important to the old lady that she was prepared to burn with them rather than give them up. This deeply disturbing episode has made a profound impact on Montag, who's now started to wonder whether burning books, something he's done throughout the whole of his working life, is really such a good thing after all.
The old lady's gruesome, tragic death has provided a catalyst for Montag to think about books seriously for the first time. Now he no longer sees books as just objects, as bundles of paper to be despised and destroyed. He recognizes them as the expression of ideas, as valuable cultural artifacts that disseminate knowledge. He now sees the connection between the books and the human beings who sat down to right them, and this makes him see books in a whole different light.
This revelation is a major turning point in the story. From now on, Montag's disillusion with book-burning will only grow, until eventually he becomes a fully-fledged outlaw determined to play his part in bringing about the end of this despotic regime.