Montag’s fire run to the unidentified woman’s house is a turning point in his life. The woman’s strange statement, "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." This is an allusion to Nicholas Ridley, the Bishop of London in the sixteenth century. He was accused of heresy and sentenced to be burned at the stake with fellow heretic Hugh Latimer. What is the significance of this quote & how does it relate to the changes that happen in Montag?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Part One, Montag arrives at the scene of what seems to be a routine fire call and ends up witnessing a woman commit suicide with her books. Rather than be arrested by the authorities, the woman quotes the 16th Century British Clergyman Hugh Latimer before she lights a match and commits suicide. The woman says,

"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" (Bradbury 17).

The woman recites what Hugh Latimer said to Nicholas Ridley before they were burned at the stake for heresy in Oxford, England on October 16, 1555. The quote illustrates the willingness for a martyr to die for their beliefs in the hope that their sacrifice will influence other believers to challenge authoritarian regimes. Latimer's quote also employs light imagery in the form of a candle, which corresponds to Montag's intellectual awakening. This quote also correlates with Montag's decision to leave his life as a fireman behind and challenge the government by becoming an intellectual. Interestingly, the quote also foreshadows Montag, Faber, and Granger's efforts to rebuild a literate society in order to sustain intellectual pursuits for generations to come.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial