What does Faber mean when says society is "flinging itself to pieces," how is this society like a centrifuge, and how does it compare to ours?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Faber says: "Let the war turn off the families. Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge," he is speaking of two forces pitted against each other in the novel: the government and the book lovers/free thinkers.

[A centrifuge is something that rotates at a high speed, using centrifugal force to separate two components from a whole, like milk and cream.]

I  believe that Faber is talking about the forces converging within society that are splitting it apart; specifically, the centrifuge: the brainwashed vs. the free thinkers...those that accept what they are told and don't ask questions or think, and those who secretly own and read books, and use their minds to make their own decisions.

Faber is the man in the "resistance" that has helped Montag discover who he really is, and what he really believes in.  At the end of the story, he says that the war is destroying the individuals—the families.  However, Faber is more concerned about the survival of society.  The very things that are causing the war at the end, as well as the death of so many people, have the potential to destroy society as a whole so that it may never be repaired.

Faber's cautionary words are a directive to remain removed from the war which will surely destroy all those involved, and see to preserving the important elements of a free society as building blocks on which to resurrect a new society when the fighting has ended.  Montag becomes one such man who flees society to find a small group of people such as himself, those who can no longer be told what to think.  They will be the future of this society.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Post #1 is an excellent one.  I would add that our society is like Montag's in that some information is not released or available to the public (mostly goverment secrets or patents for inventions) but also that books in some parts of the world are banned and forbidden.  In many countries, it is already illegal to carry a Bible with you or to give it to others.  This is not so far off from Montag's society where it is illegal to own ANY books, and so therefore, the firemen must come and burn them all.  The bigger government gets and the more control it has over the population of any country (ie. Communist and Socialist governments), the more like Montag's society it becomes.  We are not so far away from his society if you really think about it.  So many people even in democracies like the USA don't stand up for what is right and what they believe in thinking that someone else will fight the good fight for them.  We can not depend on that...think of how the Nazis gained power...little by little rights were taken away and everyone said, "Oh, that's not so bad.  It won't kill you."  By the time they got around to the things that killed them, it was too late to turn the state of the government around.  Millions died in furnaces, and thousands more died fighting for the freedom from tyranny of those countries.  I don't think we are so far away from Montag's society at all.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think #3 does an excellent job in highlighting one of the central messages of this great dystopian story that actually has a lot to do with today's society. You need to think about how information is controlled and disseminated to begin to grasp the kind of issues that Montag is rebelling against. It is interesting that in some countries such as China, they have even forced google to bow to its demands of restricting information. Likewise in other countries certain texts are completely forbidden. Maybe our world is not to far from Montag's world after all...

epollock | Student

I think the book is a great metaphor for the harmful effects of TV as it turns people off into obtaining new knowledge and information. It has wonderful contrasts for today's world and gives people great things to think about and what they can do about their own future to make sure it changes for the better.

Read the study guide:
Fahrenheit 451

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