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Essay on a passage out of the novel "Fahrenheit 451"
Faber is one of the three important characters who don't capitulate to the totalitarian state system which is described in Ray Bradbury's Anti-Utopian novel "Fahrenheit 451". He is a retired Englisch professor who isn't needed in that hedonistic society in which books are prohibited in order to keep the people's happiness.
In the passage from line 18 on page 105 up to line 25 on page 108 Faber shows his opinion according to books, their function and their claim.
Up to here Bradbury has built up a scenery in which firemen have got the important task to track down books to burn them down afterwards. One of those firemen is the protagonist Guy Montag. Actually he is a loyal supporter of the system who accepts and even defends its conditions, but when he meets Clarisse Mc Clellan one evening, his mind begins to change and above all he begins to wonder. Clarisse is an outlaw in this society, she and her family rebel against the government and its rules. When the two meet, for the first time Montag wonders whether he is really happy.(comp. p. 14/15) In the course of the plot he will realize that he is not. This recognization leads him to Faber, who he has once met at his job as a fireman. Guy remembers that Faber quoted poems and that he gave him his address in those days.
For the reason that Montag recognized that people are not happy although they have got everything to be it, he believes books might help, because they are the only thing which is missing.(comp. p. 105/ll.13-17)
But when he talks to Faber he learns that it's not books he needs, "but some of the things that once were in books"(p.105/l.20) In a long speech Faber advises him that he could also find these things in old phonograph records, old motion pictures and old friends, because it's not books at all, but three important things which are needed to be happy. At first he mentions the importance of quality. But in Fabers mind quality doesn't mean the value of entertainment, no-it means that they should contain a huge amount of life. They should be exact observers of nature.(comp. p.106/ll.16/17) He gives this fact as a reason for their unpopularity. They also show the ugly and serious side of life, so that people are torn out of their daily comfort, which covers each real detail just in order to protect their unreal happiness.(comp. p.106/ll.20-22) The second fact he enumerates is the significance of leisure. But also as at the quality Faber means something special. He doesn't demand more freetime as Montag first thinks. He just wants to have more time to "digest"(p.108/l.21) the received information. In their society spare-time it is only used to have fun or to get entertained. But Faber's understanding of leisure rather means something like a "time-out" from the reality the media pretends. But if you are watching the four-wall televisor you are not able to take that "time-out" to have the chance to work with your mind. In his opinion only books could provide this opportunity, because they can be shut. Only here you have time to escape from this "imposed reality" for a moment. Now you have got time to wonder, to doubt or even to protest. Books can not blast something as the parlour is able to.(comp. p.108/ll.3-12)
In the end of his speech Faber tells Montag the third thing which is missing in their society. Namely "the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two" points.(p.108/ll.21-23) So to speak a right of the freedom of speech. He claims that only if you are able to get qualitative information as an exact mirror of life and the leisure to digest it, you will have the possibilty to create a really lucky life.
In my mind Faber's speech must not only be understood as an enumeration of the things which are missing in the future society Ray Bradbury describes. No, I think that the author wants to clarify the function of books from his view. Therefore Faber's speech must be seen in contrast to Beatty's opposite monologue on the pages 70 up to 83. Here the contrary point of view is shown. Beatty, a probable advocate of the system and Montag's superior claims that books must be abolished, because they only cause that people don't stay happy. So, if you analyse Faber's speech according to ist stylistic devices you always have to consider it as a reply to Beatty's one. If I take a look at these numerous rhetorical questions Faber asks, I could imagine a direct conversation between Faber and Beatty about the usefulness of books. But it's a conversation in which each of them tries to express his opinion without any disruption by the other. For example when Faber asks about the importance of books(p.106/l.8/9), he doesn't want to have an answer of Montag alias Beatty. It's just a long monologue of Faber, which the author uses to show his opinion. In the whole plot before that scene the reader had the chance to listen to the opinion of pro-system characters like Beatty and Mildred, Montag's wife, but now Ray Bradbury wants to emphasize the real value of books by using a long monologue which is not interrupted by inappropriate comments. Another interesting stylistic device is the comparison Faber uses when he tries to explain what he has meant by the significance of quality. Here he compares a good book with the giant wrestler Antaeus, who is invincible as long as he stands firmly on the ground.(comp. p.107/ll.3-9) Herewith Bradbury wants to say that books are quite similar to this legend, because they are also honest and powerful as long as they keep a connection to reality. This is a very convincing argument, because he emphasizes the claim of good books by comparing them to a metaphor, which also is out of a book. Just before this comparison he creates a picture which has the same intention like the story about the greek saga. He says that "flowers are trying to live on flowers instead of growing on good rain and black loam"(p.106/ll.23-25) He just wants to say that there exists the danger that life and books aswell lose their relation to reality.
The next stylistic puculiarity I want to mention is the use of the word "feature" in line eleven on page 106, which seems to be a sort of personification. The author uses it when he describes the character of a book itself. But he doesn't talk about it as a dead object, rather he sees it as a living individual, who has its own characteristic "features". You can see that Bradbury understands a book as something which has a past life which is told on its pages. Additionally emphasized is this effect by his assertion that books must have pores.(comp. p.106/ll.11+13) Because pores stand for a living being and they are necessary for breathing. Therefore the author makes Faber come to the conclusion that a quality book has to be able to tell fresh details.(comp. p.106/l.16)
In contrast to his opinion according to the quality of books Faber gives a climax when he wants to describe the characteristics of those comfortable people who are just sitting in front of the parlour. At first he calls them poreless, but in the end he considers them to be even expressionless.(comp. p.106/ll.22/23) Here you can see how far people remoted from a real and true life with some expressions and feelings.
I chose this passage, because here I think the author's opinion according to the main subject- the function of books and their effect-comes very clear. In my mind this is the first time Ray Bradbury uses a certain character to clarify his point of view and even his intention. The reader gets to know that Bradbury doesn't want to save books as a dictum which tells the pure truth, but he understands them as an opportunity for their readers to argue with their issues. Books shall be used to activate one's mind in order to avoid a decreasing of one's curiosity. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that this scene is one of the most important passages in the whole plot, because on the one hand it illustrates a twist to Beatty's speech by refuting his arguments. On the other hand it could be understood as the decisive thought which introduces the end of the story because here it is said that a book tells the life-story of its editor. And those "book-people" in the forests surrounding the city see it as their duty to retain these life-stories by memorizing the whole books.
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- Quote paper
- Stefan Wille (Author), 2000, Bradbury, Ray - Fahrenheit 451- Essay on a passage out of the novel, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/95511