In part two of Fahrenheit 451, why does Montag believe books might help? What is Faber's reaction to Montag's belief that books might help?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"You weren't there, you didn't see. . . There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing" (51).

The above passage is taken from Montag in part one talking with his wife about the woman who burned herself along with her house and books the night before. There are many events that place Montag on the path to discovering what books hold for him, but the woman choosing to be burned just like her books is an event that pushing Montag over the edge. In an effort to gain more understanding, Montag contacts the former English professor he met a year before--Faber.

Montag shares his frustrations and feelings with Faber who listens carefully. Montag tells Faber that he feels something is missing, but he isn't sure just what. Faber's response is the following:

"No, no, it's not books at all you're looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us" (82-83).

Montag does not take Faber's advice. Faber claims he's a coward, so that's probably part of the reason he doesn't listen, but there is a lot of truth to be found in what Faber says. Even Captain Beatty said that people turned from reading books to movies and radio for entertainment. The majority of the populace wants to be happy without dealing with difficult issues found in books. As a result, the illiterate society developed and they won't be able to change it until the majority brings it back again.

sboeman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By this point in the story, Montag is beginning to see how the people in his society truly are - devoid of emotion, preoccupied with mindless entertainment, and a disregard for anything that requires mental effort.  His quote "We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren't happy.  Something's missing" tells us that he is not sure in which direction to go, which solution would best help this society "see the light".  In desperation, he suggests to Faber that books might be the answer.

Faber, however, believes it is much too late for that: "Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces," he states.  "Stand back from the centrifuge."  Faber, a self-proclaimed coward, discusses the importance of books and how their radios and "televisors" could provide some of the same effect, but unfortunately, that is not what they provide, nor is it what the public wants.