What Does Faber Tell Montag About Books
In Fahrenheit 451, what does Faber tell Montag about books?
In his efforts to fathom the contents of books, Montag realized that he needed training which he then sorts from Faber, a former English professor at the Liberal Arts College with whom he had had an encounter about a year ago. Faber is at first suspicious of Montag due to his profession, but after Montag shows up with a bible in Faber’s house, his suspicion fades away and he is at ease discussing books with Montag. After expressing his unhappiness and general displeasure, Faber tells Montag that he in fact does not know the real reason for his unhappiness but is just guessing that his problem has a connection with books. Faber then points out “…that it’s not the books themselves that Montag is looking for, but the meaning they contain.”
Faber tells Montag that unlike other media preferred by the majority of people in their society, books are the only ones that offer meaning. Even though meaning can also be incorporated in the content offered by the other media, people have not demanded it. He further sensitizes Montag to the importance of preserving books and the fact that people must be free to read books and independently act on the contents of the books. Faber prefers books to television because unlike the latter that he perceives as controlling, books can be read leisurely and the reader has time to process the information they are receiving.
When Montag visits Faber, Faber tells him various things about his own past life as a teacher, his fear and cowardice in not preventing the book ban, and his opinions on modern culture. One point he makes is how books are honest and tell the truth as seen by the writer, no matter how uncomfortable that might make others (a point made earlier by Beatty):
"So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)
This is in stark contrast to the television walls, which are tailored for the user and only show what is comforting. When people are only exposed to what they want to see, they become insular and narrow-minded; the sheer amount of information in books guaranteed that people had a wide range of influences. Without books, people all speak the same way, like the same things, and express the same opinions.