In Fahrenheit 451, what are the three things that Faber says are needed for books to be useful?

In Fahrenheit 451, Faber says that the first important thing needed for books to be useful would be an appreciation of the quality and texture books provide. The second thing would be the leisure time to read. The third thing would be the ability to freely act on the information and knowledge acquired from reading.

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Montag turns to Faber in frustration, asking him to teach him how to understand what he reads. Montag is desperate to change his world, realizing that "something's missing."

Faber surprises him by saying that the things he's looking for in society don't necessarily have to be found in books; they could be projected through the "parlor families"—but they aren't. Faber then explains the predominant qualities of literature that reflect what Montag is missing in his vapid and mindless society, which lacks all literature.

First, books provide quality as they examine life. Faber says that they are pores through which readers can touch on common life experiences. Their details are not meant to make readers simply enjoy the experience but instead represent the reality of life, which is sometimes ugly. Faber points out that flowers grow out of "good rain and black loam," meaning that beauty often rises out of pain. Their society doesn't want to face anything that deviates from the "flowers" and "fireworks" of life, so they don't want to investigate the painful ideas which are often found in literature.

Second, books allow readers the leisure to digest the information they contain. Faber points out that in their society, everyone rushes around from one place to the next, and they trust the parlor walls to deliver the truth to them. They don't question it, because the information comes so quickly. Books, on the other hand, provide time to walk away and process information in order to arrive at individual conclusions.

Finally, books often create a need for people to respond based on what they have learned. When people are given quality information and the time to process their thoughts regarding this information, they should have the right to act based on new knowledge.

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Faber attempts to explain to Montag that he is searching for things that used to be in books, which (mostly) no longer exist in their dystopian society. Faber tells Montag the first thing literature provides readers is quality and texture. He likens the rich details inside books to pores and features of humans, which can be closely examined through a microscopic lens. Faber explains that books record "details of life per square inch" on each page, and good writers have the ability to accurately depict real-life experiences. In the dystopian society, the shallow, ignorant citizens support censoring literature to avoid closely examining the details of their meaningless lives.

The second important element of literature is the leisure it provides readers, who regain control over their fast-paced lives. Books create a tranquil environment for readers to analyze their world without being beaten down or interrupted by intrusive technology. In Montag's dystopia, citizens are consumed by mindless entertainment, which controls virtually every aspect of their lives. Mildred is the prime example and spends the vast majority of her day watching her parlor walls.

The third valuable element of books is the freedom for people to carry out actions based on the information they have digested. Books promote independent thought, which is something the government is determined to suppress. The authoritarian government desires to control individualism and encourage conformity through media and censorship. Through books, people share information and acquire knowledge. The newly acquired knowledge has the potential to influence readers to act autonomously. Independent thoughts and opinions threaten to undermine the government, which is the primary reason books are banned.

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In Part Two of the novel, Montag visits Faber's home in hopes of learning how to comprehend the texts that he has been reading. Shortly after Montag arrives, he has an enlightening conversation with Faber concerning the value of literature. Faber begins by telling Montag that books are significant because they have quality. Faber proceeds to explain that good literature reflects life and presents a detailed view of living that authentically replicates the human experience.

According to Faber, the second reason books are important concerns the leisure they provide to readers. Faber explains to Montag that unlike the loud, colorful parlor wall televisions, which are never turned off, books provide a type of entertainment that can be controlled by the reader. Readers can essentially play God by opening and closing books. The reader also has the necessary time to relax and allow their opinions to form regarding a piece of literature while they are reading.

The third reason why books are important concerns the way that they affect individuals and society. Faber tells Montag,

"Only if the third necessary thing could be given us. Number one, as I said, quality of information. Number two: leisure to digest it. And number three: the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two" (Bradbury, 40).

Essentially, Faber is saying that people can be influenced and motivated to act upon the information they have read, which can positively impact the world.

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When Montag visits Faber, he expresses the opinion that books are missing from his life, and if books are returned, things will get better. Faber disagrees:

"You're a hopeless romantic," said Faber. "It would be funny if it were not serious. It's not books you need, it's some of the things that once were in books."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

Faber goes on to say that there are three things needed to get the proper use out of books:

  1. Quality and texture; Faber says that books show the "pores in the face of life," which makes people uncomfortable. Books contain more reality than television, because they absorb character from physically existing.
  2. Leisure; although people have plenty of time to sit and watch television, their minds are never allowed enough leisure to relax and absorb information. Instead, they are bombarded with ads and propaganda, and can't focus on real issues.
  3. Freedom; people are so restricted by government that they can't act on their knowledge. Since books give people ideas of rebellion, the government endows firemen with the power to judge and kill dissidents. Without the ability to put their differing opinions and knowledge into action, just reading books will change nothing.

These three things are necessary for books to be of use. Even television could be used for quality learning and information, but it is deliberately controlled by government to keep people unthinking. Without those qualities, people become willing accomplices to their own subjugation.

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Faber talks about these things when Montag comes to his house with the Bible.  He says there are three things that would be needed:

  1. Quality and "texture" of information.  What he's saying here is that to have books matter again, you would need really compelling stories -- ones that would have relevance to the people.  He fears that there might not be any of those out there anymore.
  2. Leisure.  He's not just talking about time off from work -- they have plenty of that.  He's saying that they need to have time to just sit and read rather than driving fast and watching the parlour walls and such.
  3. Finally, they need the right to do things based on what they get from reading the high-quality information.
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