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Montag has a memory of his childhood
Montag is traveling on the subway to go and see Faber. He has a flashback to his childhood; a cousin had offered him a dime if he could fill a sieve with sand. He tried and tried, not realizing it was impossible, until finally the tears flowed down his cheeks. Montag also thinks about his efforts at memorizing the Bible so if it is burned its contents will not be forgotten. The problem is that as much as he tries, he is unable to retain any of it. He tries to think about what he has studied in the Bible, but can recall nothing. The train radio and the people on the train seem to make it impossible for him to concentrate. His endeavor at memorization reminds him of filling the sieve with sand.
It is appropriate that Montag has a flashback to the sieve and the sand; its symbolism is self-explanatory, and its relevance is obvious. Montag is trying to memorize as much as possible from his books, especially from the Bible, but everything he reads seems to slip away from him. "The words fell through, and he thought, in a few hours, there will be Beatty, and here will be one handing this over, so no phrase must escape me, each line must be memorized." His failure at memorization frustrates him to the point of tears, just as when he was as a child trying to fill up the sieve with sand.