In Part Two of Fahrenheit 451, why does Montag now think about the old man in the park?  

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of part one, Montag and his wife are reading books as he decides if he wants to go back to burning them. He's been on quite a journey since he met a young girl named Clarisse McClellan, who prompted him to think inwardly about his happiness. Then, after a woman ignites herself rather than live without her books, Montag wonders what he's been missing in life. He feels that there must be something in books that might bring him a more fulfilling life. It is after he finally decides to find the answers to these deeper questions that he truly starts to read; but, he still needs to understand the background information to some of the books. It is at this point that he realizes that he needs a teacher to help him understand what he's reading. Montag remembers Faber as follows:

"Hold on. He shut his eyes. Yes, of course. Again he found himself thinking of the green park a year ago. The thought had been with him many times recently but now he remembered how it was that day in the city park when he had seen that old man in the black suit hide something , quickly, in his coat" (75).

Montag says he had been thinking about his experience with Faber from a year ago, but it is now that he realizes how a former English professor could be of some use to him. He tells Faber that he is at the point in his life where he recognizes that no one really listens to each other; he doesn't have a valuable relationship with his wife; and life seems only to circle around the TV. Faber asks Montag what finally "knocked the torch out" of his hands (82). Montag replies as follows:

"I don't know. We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren't happy. Something's missing. I looked around. The only think I positively knew was one was the books I'd burned in ten or ten or twelve years. So I thought books might help" (82).

Even though Montag had met Faber a year earlier, he was not ready for a teacher. It took a young girl questioning his happiness and a woman burning herself to death to push Montag to the point of being teachable and ready to make a change in his life.

 

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Fahrenheit 451

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