Faber tells Montag to "Stand back from the centrifuge." What does it mean? What does the "centrifuge" represent?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge.

If the government is inefficient, topheavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it

Beatty is telling Montag what books can and can't do for humans.  He basically says that they are falling apart...like a centrifuge that flings everything from the center to the outside as it whirls itself around separating particles from one another.  The civilization is doing the same thing, and that Montag is getting involved in something he shouldn't be bothered with or he will get "burned".  No pun intended, but perhaps this is exactly Beatty's point.  He, in fact, is burned to death by Montag, and Montag believes later that Beatty continually badgered him intentionally so Montag would kill him.  He believes that Beatty wanted to die.

"Stand back from the centrifuge"--don't get involved...stay back at a safe distance so as to protect yourself.  Be Happy.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A centrifuge is a machine that rapidly spins and separates fluids of different densities. Faber comparing the dystopian society to a centrifuge and warning Montag to stand at a distance illustrates the destructive nature of the nation. Similar to a centrifuge, Bradbury's dystopian society is rapidly moving in a dangerous direction that will eventually tear it apart. The authoritarian government's stance on censoring literature, arresting intellectuals, promoting violence, stifling education, and engaging in continuous wars will eventually result in its destruction. Faber recognizes the dangerous path society is heading toward and warns Montag that civilization will eventually destroy itself. Faber's assessment of the dystopian society is correct, and the society is eventually destroyed by an atomic bomb. Fortunately, Montag and his fellow traveling intellectuals walk toward the destroyed city at the end of the novel in hopes of rebuilding a literate society.

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Fahrenheit 451

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