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Part 2 (II)

Montag catches the subway toward Faber's house. As he sits in the train car, he feels as if his entire body is numb. He wonders when that numbness started -- the night he met Clarisse? The moment he accidentally kicked Mildred's empty bottle of suicide pills under the bed?

Montag decides he must try to memorize the Bible he has in his hands. What if he never has another chance? But the sound of an advertisement is, as usual, being chanted through the train's sound system -- an ad which repeats "Denham's Dentifrice, Denham's Dentifrice" over and over again. (A "dentifrice," by the way, is more or less toothpaste.)

Although Montag tries desperately to memorize part of the book -- particularly the line "Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin" -- the noise is so distracting that he forgets the words as soon as he reads them. Montag is reminded of a childhood memory, of trying to fill up a sieve with sand: right now, he feels as if his mind is a sieve and the words are falling out of it. He feels so desperate that -- although he's openly holding a book openly on a train full of people -- he stands up and yells at the loudspeakers: "Shut up!" The other passengers stare, and Montag staggers off the train just before missing his stop.

When Montag reaches Faber's house, he finds the old man looking tired, thin and suspicious. Faber interrogates Montag, asking what has shaken Montag up -- after all, he's been a fireman for years: why is he no longer happy with the status quo? Montag says that he doesn't know what's wrong with him and the world, but he knows something is. And the only things Montag knows are now missing from the world are all the books he's been burning for the past ten years. So he thought turning back to books for the answers might help.

Faber shakes his head affectionately, calling Montag a romantic fool. He tells him that it isn't really books that are missing from the world, but some of the things that books used to contain -- certain kinds of information and art, which might just as easily exist on the TV-screens and radios of the present day, but do not. The first thing that's missing, Faber says, is art with "pores." By this he means art which is full of the details of life, including its stupidities and ugliness. The only things the magazines and TV shows have, he says, is images of life in which all the distracting details are glossed over. That is like trying to grow flowers in air instead of earth. No wonder people feel as if something's missing.

The second missing thing is enough leisure time for people to think about what they see and read. Montag says that everyone has plenty of off-hours, but Faber points out that that time is jammed with activities, and that it's hard to even find a quiet place in the world to sit and think -- one that isn't full of noise. Montag remembers the advertising voice on the train, and agrees wholeheartedly.

And the third thing that has disappeared from the world, Faber says -- along with quality of information, and the leisure time to think about that information -- is freedom for people to act on the conclusions they come to. But, clearly, people these days don't have the freedom to change things if they wanted to. Faber says he doesn't think a very old man and a rebellious fireman can change the world enough to make that possible again.

Montag, however, is determined to start a revolution. Tasking Faber up on an off-the-cuff suggestion, he hatches a daring plan: He persuades Faber it would be possible to start a sabotage network to destroy the firemen themselves, by planting books in the houses of firemen across the nation -- using the classified information Montag has access to -- so their own houses will be burned down. Faber admits that he has plenty of elderly friends -- bitter former writers, linguists, historians, stage actors - - who might help.

Faber, shocked by the audacity of this plan, tries to back out. He tells Montag that there's nothing the two of them can do. They'll have to wait for the upcoming war to destroy their culture entirely, and then people can start again. To shock Faber, Montag starts to savagely tear up the Bible in his hands. Faber, who really does care about books and wants to help, finally agrees to try Montag's plan to destroy the firemen's network.

Faber also asks Montag to bring all the money he has saved up -- four or five hundred dollars -- so Faber can call a former printer he knows and try to get copies of the stolen Bible made. Montag, meanwhile, will give Beatty a different book in the evening, and hope he doesn't notice the switch.

Finally, Faber gives Montag a special device he has invented. This is a tiny electronic earplug, like a green bullet, that Montag can fit inside his ear. From his ends, in the safety of his home, Faber will now be able to hear everything Montag hears, and will also be able to talk to Montag. This way, he can help support him against the persuasive arguments of people like Beatty -- for Montag is afraid Beatty will try to change his way of thinking back to how it used to be. As Montag goes outside to head home, Faber, sitting in his house, keeps talking to him through the earplug. He opens Montag's Bible and, in a voice only Montag can hear in his ear, reads to him from the Book of Job.

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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