Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Chapter 2, Part 1 (pages 67-83) Summary

The Sieve and the Sand

This section, named after a prank on Montag by a cruel cousin, opens with Montag reading a quote from James Boswell that is integral to the novel (see the "Important Quotes" section for further reference.) While Montag and his wife try to make sense of the books, with the parlor walls turned off for a change, the Mechanical Hound comes sniffing at the door. Mildred argues that books aren't people, but the characters on the parlor walls (her "family") are. Mildred demands to know why she should risk her home and her "family" to read books. Montag responds by detailing the problems he's noticed (e.g. the war, Mildred's near-death), and suggests books might help stop people from repeating their self-destructive mistakes.

Montag, frustrated by his inability to understand what he's reading, thinks about where he can find help, and remembers the man in the park, Professor Faber, whom he'd almost caught reading. Montag realizes he may have the only copy of the Bible in existence, and contacts Faber to verify this, which only serves to scare the professor. When Montag confirms there aren't any left except for the one he possesses, he attempts to memorize it before turning it over to Beatty to burn.

Montag goes to Faber, shows him the copy of the Bible, and asks for help. Faber says the society lacks quality of information, leisure to digest that information, and the ability to carry out what's learned from that interaction. The two discuss ways they might fight back against the destructive trends adopted by their society. Faber says, "The whole culture's shot through. The skeleton needs melting and reshaping" (83). Then they stop to listen to bombers flying by.