In the opening pages of Ray Bradbury’s famous novel Fahrenheit 451, protagonist Guy Montag asks: Wasn’t there a time when firemen used to put out fires? They laugh at him, rebuke him and say: Everybody knows firemen start fires.
Montag knew this. Montag’s father and his grandfather had been firemen. It had been his duty for many years to start fires. He knew it was his duty to burn books, but this day would be different.
Montag arrived on the scene to do his job but found a woman who wouldn’t leave. He complained that she had all of her books but still wouldn’t leave. Undeterred, Montag proceeds with the other firemen to douse her books—and her—with kerosene. The woman shouts out and goads them. She is indignant that they would touch her books at all, and she still wouldn’t leave. She says to them: “Play the man, Master Ridley; today we will light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, that it won’t be forgotten.”