As they proceed through the catacombs, Fortunato throws his arms up with a movement that Montresor finds "grotesque." Asking Montresor, "You do not comprehend?" he is given the reply, "Not I." Then, Fortuanto observes, " You are not of the masons." To this remark, Montresor counters, "Yes,yes,...yes, yes." Fortunato asks for a sign, and Montresor produces a trowel, causing Fortunato to fall back.
"You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. "But let us proceed to the Amontillado."
Fortunato may be worried about the repercussions of his having identified himself as a mason because in Italy the Freemasons would not be looked upon favorably since the Catholic Church prohibits membership because this naturalistic, deistic organization does not accept revelation or Church authority as a source of religious knowledge. Further, as a man who lacks independence of thought, by making the sign, Fortunato admits to his willingness to belong to a group that dictates his beliefs and behavior.