In part 1, an old woman was burned in her house with the books. Why didn't she want to get out the house? And what is the meaning of her speech?The Old woman's speech states: "play the man,...

In part 1, an old woman was burned in her house with the books. Why didn't she want to get out the house? And what is the meaning of her speech?

The Old woman's speech states: "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."  Then Captain Beatty said something about this speech too, what is the relation between Beatty`s speech and the old woman`s speech?  Thanks

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For the woman who chooses to burn with her books, her life has been condemned as all that she loves and believes in is about to be destroyed when the firemen arrive. Her citation likens her situation to that of the three martyrs of Oxford: the Anglican bishops Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury. These Protestant bishops were tried for heresy during the reign of Mary I (Bloody Mary), who aggressively tried to restore England to Catholicism. 

Recalling the bishops who had enough conviction to die for their religious beliefs, the old woman feels that if she lives after her books are burned, she will have betrayed all those whose works she has embraced. Therefore, she chooses to become a martyr and die along with the philosophies and truths she embraces. She quotes the words of Bishop Hugh Latimer as he turns to Bishop Nicholas Ridley:

"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 may hope that her sacrifice will awaken people to the significance and importance of preserving the recordings of the thoughts and deeds of great men and women. As it turns out, Montag, who is part of the crew that has come to set fire to the books, is disturbed by the woman's refusal to leave her house. As books are being hurled through the air, one bounces off Montag, falling open.

Montag had only an instant to read a line, but it blazed in his mind for the next minute as if stamped there with fiery steel. "Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine." He dropped the book. Immediately, another fell into his arms.

 This moment is the beginning of Montag's awakening as he keeps another book that flies by him.

Montag's hand closed like a mouth, crushed the book with wild devotion, with an insanity of mindlessness to his chest. 

Moved emotionally by both the martyrdom of this woman and the line that he has read, Montag returns home. Now he begins to question his life and what meaning there is to it.

ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In part one of "Fahrenheit 451," by Ray Bradbury,the unnamed woman not only refuses to leave her books, she lights the match which burns her books, her house and herself.  She won't leave because she would rather die free, with her books, than live in a world of oppression and without the freedom of thought the books symbolize.

According to the information Beatty gives his firemen on the way back to the firehouse,

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

Beatty is aware of much of the literature used to promote the concept of freedom of thought and freedom of speech.  His belief is that it is necessary to burn books because these ideas make people think for themselves and that is dangerous to the control of the society.  Freedom of thought makes people unique and different. In Beatty's mind this is dangerous.

It is ironic that the woman is willing to die for the right to read and think for herself and she uses the speech as her last testament to that freedom, while Beatty uses literary quotes to justify his job of burning the books and taking away this freedom of thought.

"We must all be alike. Not everyone is born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone is made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it."

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Fahrenheit 451

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