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Part 2 (I)

Part 2: The Sieve and the Sand (I)

All afternoon, as it rains outside, Montag and Mildred sit in the hallway, trying to read the books. Or, rather, Montag tries to read them to Mildred. Montag finds the books confusing but fascinating. Mildred, however, is restless and nervous. She keeps trying to return to the parlor, where Montag has forcibly shut off the TV-walls. She complains that the books are not people -- like the "family" of characters in her interactive soap operas -- and that she cannot get anything out of them.

But Montag, fueled by his obsession, believes that the books may hold the answers he and Mildred need. He tries to remind her how unhappy the two of them really are: she with her sleeping pills and the suicide attempts which she won't acknowledge in the light of day, and he with his newfound hatred of his job. He asks her why people like Captain Beatty should be afraid of people like Clarisse, just because she asked questions and thought for herself. And when they hear the jet plans pass overhead again, he reminds Mildred of larger world issues: Their country has recently started and won two atomic wars, and it's said that the rest of the world works hard and is poor to keep their nation rich and happy. But no one thinks or talks about these things. Montag is convinced that the books may hold some valuable help for their confused and unhappy world: that they may at least be able to explain the errors people and in the past, and help keep them from making them again.

Suddenly, there is a sound like a dog scratching at the door. Mildred wants to let it in, but Montag won't let her. He's sure he can smell the electric odor of the terrifying Mechanical Hound. Does Beatty know that he has these books?

To Montag's relief, the sound at the door finally disappears. To Mildred's great delight, a friend of hers calls on the phone. While she chatters away, Montag -- left alone in the hallway -- has a flashback to a strange encounter he had a year ago with a man he met in a park.

This man, named Faber, was a retired English professor, and although Montag thinks he guessed Montag is a fireman, Faber quoted poetry to Montag -- totally illegally. Faber gave him his address, but Montag has never turned him in to the fire station. Now Montag can't stop thinking about this man. Could Faber help him resolve his problems?

Montag calls Faber. Faber is suspicious and taciturn over the phone, but Montag resolves to go visit him. The book Montag stole from the burning house has turned out to be a King James Bible, and Montag suspects he may have in his possession the only Bible left in his part of the world. He has the sudden desire to show it to Faber, before he has to go to the station and turn it over to Beatty later that night.

On his way out the door, Mildred catches him to tell him that her friends -- whom she calls the "ladies" -- will be coming over that night to watch a program called the White Clown. Montag asks Mildred, very seriously, if the TV character of the White Clown loves her. Mildred seems not to understand the question, and Montag, very sadly, leaves.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Part 1 (I)
Part 1 (II)
Part 1 (III)
Part 1 (IV)
Part 1 (V)
Part 2 (I)
Part 2 (II)
Part 2 (III)
Part 3 (I)
Part 3 (II)
Part 3 (III)
Part 3 (IV)
Part 3 (V)
Part 3 (VI)


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