Fahrenheit 451


Part 2: The Sieve and the Sand

Montag becomes increasingly more absorbed in his reading, while Mildred can't see the point of it. To her, her entertainment programs (or her electronically transmitted "family") are all that counts. Montag thinks that reading might have made Clarissa what she was, and may have created their hatred for continuous wars, heartlessness, greed, and irrationality, while Mildred sees books as useless. Longing for a teacher, Montag remembers a past incident in a park, where he met an old man attempting to conceal something in his coat. In the course of the ensuing small talk, Faber, the retired English professor, recited some poems to Montag. Montag now decides to call him, and Faber tells him that there are no copies of Shakespeare and Plato left in the country. Montag thinks he may have the sole copy of the Bible but, told to turn it in to Beatty, attempts to memorize part of it before doing so.

Before going to Beatty, he shows Faber his find. Faber explains how he first got turned on to books: The Civilization was supposed to make him happy, yet it failed. He felt that the books he was burning might fill that gap.

Faber tells him that the magic lies not in the books themselves, but in their content. Furthermore, much of life's meaning can be discovered in much of what the Civilization destroyed, such as in sitting together and talking, as well as in "old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and old friends" (82).

Faber devises a way to reform civilization by planting fires among several firemen, thereby causing confusion and anarchy. Faber tells Montag to donate his savings to an unemployed printer to disseminate books for the War's end. Before Montag leaves, Faber hands him a machine that Faber devised; it fit into his ear, and was to be used for communication.

Later, when Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles, two visitors of his wife, entertain themselves with the ever-present continuous "wall shows" that emanate from a giant television plastered on Mildred's walls, Montag does the unthinkable and turns...

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