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Part 1 (IV)

For the first time, we see Montag and the other firemen at work. They stop their fire truck, called "the Salamander," in front of a three-story house in the oldest part of the city. The firemen rush inside, with Montag lagging behind, and seize an old woman. When they show her the "complaint" signed by a neighbor which told them where to find her, the woman quotes a strange, ancient-sounding phrase at them. The firemen rush upstairs, slicing through the doors with their axes to get at the books inside. Books tumble all around them, and Montag, as if moving in a dream, watches his own hand grab a single book and stuff it under his jacket.

The other firemen have been spraying the house with kerosene, and now try to get the woman to leave the house with them so they can arrest her. But she refuses to leave. Captain Beatty urges Montag to hurry up, since they have to get back to the firehouse, and, he says, these suicides are always the same. Montag asks her one last time, but she refuses, and the firemen run out of the house. Behind them, the woman strikes a match against the staircase, and as the house roars up in flames all the neighbors come outside to watch.

The firemen ride back to the firehouse in silence, not looking at each other. Stoneman tries to remember the strange thing the woman in the house said to them, and Fire Captain Beatty startles them all by quoting the entire phrase: "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." These were the final words of a man named Latimer as he and his friend Ridley were being burned alive for heresy in England in 1555. Beatty adds that all fire captains are full of "bits and pieces" of books like this.

When Montag goes home, he feels terrible, as if his hands -- which grabbed and hid the book earlier, at the house-burning -- have been infected with some strange virus. He hides the book under his pillow, and falls into his bed. Mildred, worried, tries to talk to him, but Montag can only whimper, and starts to weep silently. Later that night, he asks Mildred if she can remember where they first met, but neither of them can remember. Montag suddenly feels as if he doesn't really know his wife at all.

Later still, that same night, Montag tries to talk to Mildred about Clarisse McClellan. To his shock, Mildred tells him that she thinks Clarisse is dead -- that she heard Clarisse was run over by a car four days ago, and the family has moved out. Mildred puts the Seashell back in her ear, and Montag lies awake in bed, wondering if the Mechanical Hound is prowling around outside, and whether it would find him if he were to open the window.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Part 1 (I)
Part 1 (II)
Part 1 (III)
Part 1 (IV)
Part 1 (V)
Part 2 (I)
Part 2 (II)
Part 2 (III)
Part 3 (I)
Part 3 (II)
Part 3 (III)
Part 3 (IV)
Part 3 (V)
Part 3 (VI)


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