In part two, The Sieve and the Sand, in Fahrenheit 451, what does Faber tell Montag abut books?Montag visits Faber because Montag wants Faber to help him understand what he is reading; what does...

In part two, The Sieve and the Sand, in Fahrenheit 451, what does Faber tell Montag abut books?

Montag visits Faber because Montag wants Faber to help him understand what he is reading; what does Faber tell Montag about books? Please let me know as soon as possible, thank you!

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In the second section of Fahrenheit 451, Faber starts telling Montag about how he did next to nothing when the book burning began. Then he tells Montag that it isn't books, specifically, that he (Montag) is looking for. Faber is setting up the argument that books are ways of preserving meaning but there is nothing magical inherent in the books themselves. He says:

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. 

But Faber does go on to explain how books are so effective in storing things. Faber says one important aspect is that books have "quality." By "quality," he means texture, a thing with pores (as he says), which is a loose analogy comparing books and life itself. This is an interesting passage on textuality, describing it as full of layers and open spaces from which to more closely observe meaning at different angles. Faber compares this to looking at things (cells?) under a microscope. The further you zoom in, the more life you discover. 

Faber also talks about the leisure time that someone can spend with books. Reading a book is not like being bombarded by the parlor television shows which take up the entire walls of the room. These shows become your environment, surrounding you (or Millie, for instance) on all sides. With books, you have the ability to close them, read at your leisure, and above all, use your imagination. Reading is therefore a more active practice (more autonomous) than the passive practice of watching parlor shows. 

Faber's third lesson about books is the practical application of what you learned from reading. There is the direct interaction with books, discovering the quality and textuality (the interrelated layered nature of life) and the leisure time in which you can digest and think about that engagement. Finally, there is the possibility that one (and Faber is skeptical about the possibilities of this, but encourages Montag's optimism) could use knowledge gained from books in order to make an individual or social change. Faber is skeptical because people have forgotten how to engage with books (and knowledge) in this way; in the way of critical thinking, creating new ideas and evolving. 

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