Discussion Topic

The significance and effect of the quote recited by the woman whose house is burned in Fahrenheit 451

Summary:

The quote recited by the woman whose house is burned in Fahrenheit 451 is from Hugh Latimer, a Protestant burned at the stake for heresy. Its significance lies in her defiance and willingness to die for her beliefs, highlighting the oppressive nature of the society in the novel. This event profoundly impacts Montag, sparking his journey towards questioning and ultimately rejecting societal norms.

Expert Answers

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

In Fahrenheit 451, what is the significance and effect of the refrain repeated by the woman whose house is burned?

In Fahrenheit 451, the refrain repeated by the woman is an allusion to Hugh Latimer, a Christian martyr who was burned at the stake for heresy in 1555. By repeating his final words, the woman is making a comparison between Latimer and herself: like him, she is about to be burned for possessing illegal books, something which she deeply believes in.

We see Montag's reaction from the text. First, he pleads with the woman to leave the house before it is set alight and, when she refuses, he repeats her refrain to Beatty and asks what it means. The full extent of his reaction becomes clear later, however, when he is at home with Mildred. He asks her about the first time they met and how many sleeping pills she has taken. He is angered by her emptiness and her love of the parlor walls. In sum, he is beginning to completely re-evaluate his society, his life and its purpose. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Fahrenheit 451, what is the significance and effect of the refrain repeated by the woman whose house is burned?

In this part of the novel Montag and other "firemen" go to a woman's house and "crashed the front door."  The woman said, "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 was later explained to Montag by Beatty, " A man named Latimer said that to a man named Nicholas Ridley, as they were being burnt alive at Oxford, for heresy, on October 16, 1555." 

This is significant because the woman is indicating that by burning the books and her burning with them will make people begin to see how wrong these actions are.  She is hoping her sacrifice will lead to long term change.

"The incident with the unnamed woman only aggravates Montag's doubt and alienation. This event helps raise Montag's consciousness about his work. He is so upset that he lays awake all night, so upset that by morning he feels too sick to go to work."  He was also so moved that he actually took some of the books and hid them in his jacket and took them home.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the significance of the quote the woman recites before her house is burned in Fahrenheit 451?

When the firemen arrive at her house, the woman recites the following quote:

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 quote was spoken by Hugh Latimer, a Protestant who was burned at the stake for heresy in 1555. Allegedly, Latimer uttered this phrase to his fellow heretic, Nicholas Ridley, at the moment of their execution. These men were labeled heretics because of their Protestant beliefs during the reign of Queen Mary, a staunch Catholic.

By alluding to Latimer and Ridley, then, this woman implies that she, too, is a heretic. Although this is not a question of religion, she is about to lose her life for something that she strongly believes in: books. Moreover, by speaking this quote, she shows her defiance in the face of censorship: she is ready and willing to die for her love of books and learning, just as Latimer and Ridley died for their beliefs. 

In addition, this quote also demonstrates hope. Latimer believed that his death would light a candle that might never be put out. By repeating this phrase, the woman expresses the hope that somebody will follow her example and realize the dangers of censorship. As such, this quote foreshadows Montag's own (impending) rebellion against the state's control over books.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the significance of the quote the woman recites before her house is burned in Fahrenheit 451?

When Montag and his team of fireman arrive at a woman's house to burn it, she greets him with a quotation: "Master Ridley, we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.

The quotation is from Hugh Latimer, who lived from 1487-1555.  Latimer was an English clergyman who developed religious ideas that were considered heretical by the Church of England establishment under the leadership of Queen Mary.

In 1555, Latimer was sentenced to death, together with a colleague named Nicholas Ridley.  Just before being killed, Latimer addressed Ridley and uttered the words quoted above.  He seems to have meant that his sacrifice for his ideals will eventually help those ideas to become accepted.

This would also seem to be the intent of the woman in Fahrenheit 451.  By burning herself together with her books, the woman hopes to demonstrate and publicize her resistance to the firemen.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the significance of the quote the woman recites before her house is burned in Fahrenheit 451?

In Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, when the firemen go to burn down a woman's house because she has been hiding books, 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."

This quote is an allusion to Hugh Latimer, a bishop from England. He and his friend, Nicholas Ridley, were about to be burned at the stake as heretics because they dared to teach their Protestant religious beliefs with which the Queen (known as Bloody Mary) did not agree.  By their deaths, they became martyrs. Latimer said the famous words that the woman whose house was about to burn in Fahrenheit 451, quoted before he and Ridley burned. The woman in Fahrenheit refused to leave her house, and like Latimer and Ridley, she too, went up in smoke, lighting a candle that would "never be put out." They were each willing to die for their beliefs.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on