What three things does Faber say they are missing from their society in Fahrenheit 451?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The three things missing from society are quality, leisure, and the right to act on what you learn.

Faber is an old man that Montag meets because he is desperate to find out about the books.  Montag has been questioning his society, and he thinks that the books are the...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The three things missing from society are quality, leisure, and the right to act on what you learn.

Faber is an old man that Montag meets because he is desperate to find out about the books.  Montag has been questioning his society, and he thinks that the books are the secret to unlocking happiness for him.  Faber gives him a lecture on the three things missing from society now that books are outlawed.

Number one: Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. (Part II)

Books were feared, according to Faber, because they put society under a microscope.  Good books showed life in detail, and mediocre ones just did so quickly, but they all showed life.

Books differ from the television shows that Montag's society has because they were honest and thoughtful.  They were also slower, and gave people a chance to think about what they read, which brings Faber to his second point.

Leisure, Faber cried, meant time to think.  You cannot do that when your society goes a hundred miles an hour, literally and figuratively.  Montag’s society makes sure people never really have time to think.

"Off-hours, yes. But time to think? If you're not driving a hundred miles an hour, at a clip where you can't think of anything else but the danger, then you're playing some game or sitting in some room where you can't argue with the fourwall televisor. (Part II)

People are always driving too fast to think, or at home they are only watching television.  There is no real slow, think time.  It is just another way of controlling people. 

Faber points out that even if a person has time to think, there is a problem.

And number three: the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the inter-action of the first two. And I hardly think a very old man and a fireman turned sour could do much this late in the game..." (Part II)

It is illegal to have a book.  It is illegal to have the knowledge, so it is illegal to act on it.  Even if Montag could get his hands on a book, what could he do with it?  His society is missing all of these freedoms, and even if he could covertly get himself a book and read it, he cannot freely act on number three.  The society is so tightly controlled that everyone fears to act.

Faber agrees to help Montag, although he is suspicious of him.  He understands that Montag is in crisis, and that he honestly does need Faber’s help.  Faber also needs people like Montag.  He is a relic of a bygone era, and he knows it.  Without people like Montag, books and the society Faber is trying to save will go extinct.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Faber was a former college professor, and so he felt like a firsthand observer, and also a guilty participant, in the degeneracy of this society. Faber doesn't think that books have any special properties on their own; the knowledge they contained was what was important, and that knowledge has not been transferred to the contemporary society, even though it could be. 

The things which are missing are;

  • "Texture" - meaning depth of information. Faber uses the concept of literal texture to introduce this idea, and expands upon it to argue that society has become obsessed with wiping out texture because it implies small imperfections and "grit" when one gets up close; society wants only smooth, perfect, "ideal" content. The lack of texture prevents us from understanding and appreciating everything in the broader context, because there is no context when everything is perfect.
  • "Leisure" - meaning the time to actually think about things and come to independent conclusions. Despite this future society enjoying so many fast and automated satisfactions, there is less actual leisure time than ever - all of their free time is taken up with loud, engrossing entertainment and distractions.
  • "Free Will" - meaning the right to make decisions and act upon them, based upon Texture and Leisure. Faber doesn't really elaborate on this point, but he seems to be referring to the fact that dissent has basically been outlawed in this future society, because dissent leads to unhappiness, and unhappiness is seen as a direct crime against humanity. 
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on