Reread what the old woman says when the firemen arrive to burn her library: “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.” Later, Beatty explains that the woman was quoting a sixteenth century British man named Latimer who was about to be burned at the stake for heresy—having an opinion or belief that goes against religious doctrine or teachings. Explain the connection between Latimer’s situation and the old woman’s. What does the quotation suggest about the effect that the day’s events will have on Montag?
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The old woman becomes a symbol for the greater idea of rebellion. Like Latimer, she is willing to die for her beliefs and make her death a beacon of hope and resistance. Both Latimer and the old lady were burned to death for their convictions. This has a profound affect of Montag. Many critics argue that this is a critical turning point in his life. That night, in his soul, Montag renounces his previous identity. Instead of burning the old lady's books, Montag tries to steal a few and save them.