How would you describe Professor Faber and his values in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury?

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Faber helps Montag gain the courage to reject his repressive, anti-intellectual society. A former English professor at the last liberal arts college, which closed forty years ago, Faber carries with him an aura of the poetic: Montag thinks of Faber's quiet speech patterns as a "poem." Faber is a gentle man who notices nature and doesn't allow himself to be sucked into the mindless technology of his culture. He says that he speaks of what things mean, indicating that he is analytical, and refers to himself as "alive." Montag looks to Faber as a man who will help take his "numbness" away. 

Faber is an old-fashioned man who believes in "quality" of life: quality exists in the richly textured language and nuance provided by books, but also can be found in nature and real human relationships in which we truly listen to each other. He stands as well for leisure, by which he means the chance to ponder, absorb and evaluate complex information in a thoughtful manner, and he believes in the right to act on the wisdom gained from living a complex, nuanced life. I would call Faber a moral intellectual, one who cares deeply about ideas and people and striving for not just any life but the most deeply felt life. He believes the unexamined life is hardly worth living. He is necessarily countercultural in a society set up to circumvent any but the most superficial thinking or interacting. In a culture that bans books, he stands up for them. The following passage offers insights into who he is:

Do you know why books such as this [the Bible] are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You'd find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more `literary' you are. That's my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. 

tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Professor Faber is a former English professor who witnessed the decline of education in his society. When Montag first meets him in the park, he places himself in danger by speaking poetry. A year after their first meeting, Montag contacts Faber again. Montag wants Faber to teach him how to understand what he is reading in the books he's stolen. At this point, Faber says he is a coward and that is why he's never gone against the status quo before. Faber has survived his life in this anti-literate society by flying under the radar. He lives alone; he reads alone; and he generally keeps to himself to save his life. He values life, literature, and education, but he is only allowed to participate in the first. Until he meets Montag for the second time, Faber values his life and prioritizes staying safe. Faber even suggests the following to Montag:

"Patience, Montag. Let the war turn off the 'families.' Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge" (87).

This quote shows Faber has given up on the people in society. People are so self-absorbed in his society, he believes only a war can change the way things are.

Faber is revitalized once he and Montag discuss a way to bring down the fireman system of justice, though. He still doesn't trust other people because anyone can call the authorities and report anyone at any time. A person doesn't even have to have proof that a neighbor owns books for firemen to be dispatched to go burn down the person's house. For the first time in his life, Faber commits to going along with Montag to fight against the system and stand up for what he values.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Faber is the one redeeming individual that Montag meets in the story who still thinks. What's better, Faber doesn't necessarily need books to think, he is one who still indeed uses his brain.

This novel is a sort of dystopia. In the middle section of modern dystopian literature, we often see this character who gives the glimmer of hope to the everyman character that acts as the novel's protagonist.

Faber seems to very much value his privacy and acts on his intellect, but he also seems to know that the society is on its way to nowhere, so he willingly helps Montag. Faber values putting together a plan and sticking with it. He values technology only as it assists man, not as it defines man.

Read the study guide:
Fahrenheit 451

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question