Compare and contrast the differences of Captain Beatty and Faber in the book Fahrenhiet 451.

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both well-read, Faber and Beatty have comparable intellect and mentor qualities. Their dissemination of these traits is how they differ.

When Beatty speaks of books, he represents the society of the time:

"Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve-line dictionary resume. I exaggerate, of course. The dictionaries were for reference. But many were those whose sole knowledge of Hamlet (you know the title certainly, Montag; it is probably only a faint rumour of a title to you, Mrs. Montag) whose sole knowledge, as I say, of Hamlet was a one-page digest in a book that claimed: 'now at least you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbours.' Do you see? Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there's your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more."

Beatty is promoting the idea that the purpose of books has become less and less necessary. Beatty knows how life was before, but he knows his role in society. Whether he agrees with the points above or not, he certainly perpetuates them in his society because it is his job.  Beatty is a strong character confident in himself.

Beatty goes to Montag when Montag is sick and tries to suggest ways that Montag can be forgiven for his crime against society without being punished yet. A good mentor finds opportunities to help change behavior especially when mistakes are made.

On the other hand, Faber is a weaker, fearful character who is willing to teach Montag, but Montag has to seek him out. Furthermore, his intellect about books shows that instead of having value for the word becoming more condensed, he values the richness of the written word, and the "liesure to digest it". Faber has to hide for fear that his previous career as an English professor will make him a suspected criminal. 

Readers can see these traits in Faber as he is willing to help Montag from afar, but he no longer has the strength to act on what he has read.