Why does Faber consider himself a coward?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hello! 'Fahrenheit 451' is a phenomenal short story about censorship and freedom of expression. Montag first sees Faber in a city park; Faber is afraid of Montag and suspicious of his motives at first. When he starts to relax in Montag's presence, the retired English professor quotes some poetry to Montag. Later, when Montag asks Faber how many copies of the Bible, Plato and Shakespeare there are left in the country, Faber refuses to tell him and declares that there are none left.

Because of Faber's fear, he does not speak up about the way society is changing before his eyes. Before the firemen started the burning of books, there were signs along the way that matters were coming to a head, but Faber still didn't speak up and he tells Montag that he is a coward for not doing so. When the structure was created to start the burning of books, Faber says that he only "grunted a few times and subsided, for there were no others grunting or yelling with me, by then." Later on, he shows Montag his creation: a two-way radio transmitter no larger than a .22 bullet. He calls this invention proof of his cowardice. He will be able to guide Montag through difficult situations with this two way radio, but if anything happens to Montag, Faber tells him that he himself will still be safe at home, tending his fright "with a maximum of comfort and a minimum of chance."

Thanks for the question!

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Fahrenheit 451

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