What smelled like perfume to Montag in Fahrenheit 451?

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Montag is a fireman, i.e. "book burner."  His job is to extinguish any and all published works which may antagonize the masses and cause unrest.  In a nutshell, any dissenting or contrary ideas must be eradicated.  As Montag and his neighbor, Clarisse, are conversing, she mentions she does not like the odor of kerosene.  It is a defining smell, and Montag describes it as perfume--something that is so much a part of him that he can not ever completely rid himself of the stench of it.  Early on in the book, Montag considers it "perfume" as he is intoxicated with his job.  He enjoys it and is a dedicated destroyer of ideas.  Clarisse opens his eyes, however.  He soon learns to despise his work, and begins taking books from the houses he is sent to burn down.  He even goes so far as to plant books in a fellow fireman's house on his way out of town. 


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