What does Faber tell Montag about books in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury?

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In Part Two of the novel, Montag visits Faber's home, and the two characters have an enlightening conversation regarding the significance of literature. Faber begins by calling Montag a "hopeless romantic" and proceeds to highlight the numerous positives found in the literary world. Faber tells Montag that books have quality...

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In Part Two of the novel, Montag visits Faber's home, and the two characters have an enlightening conversation regarding the significance of literature. Faber begins by calling Montag a "hopeless romantic" and proceeds to highlight the numerous positives found in the literary world. Faber tells Montag that books have quality and provide an in-depth, detailed look at life. Montag learns that good literature holds a mirror up to society, which can be difficult to experience and accept for some people—one reason why books are censured in Bradbury's dystopian nation.

Faber goes on to tell Montag that books provide necessary leisure time for individuals to collect their thoughts and process the world around them. In a fast-paced society, it is important to slow down, and reading a book provides the opportunity to relax. Literature also impacts readers to act upon the information they have digested. Readers can be influenced by a particular book and decide to change the world for the better by solving a social, political, or scientific problem. Faber also explains to Montag the importance of preserving knowledge in order for humans to learn from their past mistakes, which is another significant reason as to why books are necessary.

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When Montag visits Faber at his apartment, he expresses his newfound belief that books might be the answer to his (and society's) miserable state. When Montag says this, Faber is quick to point out something important about books:

It's not books you need, it's some of the things that once were in books.

In other words, the book, as a physical object, is not important; a book is nothing more than paper and ink. It is the words written on the paper which really matter. These "pores of life," as Faber calls them, encourage the reader to think and question the world.

Moreover, for books to achieve their potential, people must have enough "leisure" time to digest their message. They must also have the intellectual and social freedom to "carry out actions" based on what they have learned from reading.

For Faber, then, it is not the books which are important but rather the ability to read and absorb the information without interference from the rest of society.

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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.

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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.

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