What is the affect on Montag of the refrain that the woman of many books quotes?
Montag's experience at the house of Mrs. Blake, who owns roomfuls of books, deeply affects him, especially after his moving meeting with Clarisse which has already spurred his mind to reflect upon his existential state. When Montag accompanies the other firemen to Mrs. Blake's house on a call, Montag is amazed at the "fountains of books" that spill upon the firemen. Further, the woman is still in her house, a "mistake" as the residents are to be removed before the conflagrations.
Moreover, Mrs. Blake refuses to leave, standing staunchly amid her many works of literature and history. Holding a match, she cites the words of Hugh Latimer, the Bishop of Worcester, and Protestant martyr during the reign of "Bloody Mary," Queen of Scots, who returned to reign in England. Latimer, who refused to renounce his beliefs, along with Nicholas Ridley, an Anglican bishop of London, were burnt at the stake as heretics. Like these men of conviction, Mrs. Blake is willing to die for her convictions just as these religious men did.
After Beatty explains the quote, Montag is profoundly moved that Mrs. Blake was willing to die along with her books. He long ponders what he has witnessed and attempts to communicate this significant occurrence to his wife, who merely dismisses the telling by saying that the woman was "nothing to me." Amazed at Mildred's callousness, Montag counters,
"You weren't there, you didn't see....There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house....You don't stay for nothing."
Mrs. Blake has found much meaning in her books, for she has shared in the yearnings, joys, insights, and history of other human beings. Through the knowledge in books her soul has expanded.