In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, what does Clarisse McClellan represent?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In essence, Clarisse McClellan represents life before censorship. This is evident thorough her care-free and non-conformist character: she spends her days pursuing her own interests and allows her mind to ponder a wide range of topics, as she tells Montag:

I like to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay up all night walking and watch the sun rise.

Clarisse's non-conformity is also shown when she questions and shows contempt for authority:

My uncle drove slowly on a highway once…they jailed him for two days. Isn't that funny, and sad, too?

In addition, Clarisse also represents the innocence of youth. This is not only suggested by her teenage appearance but also in the topics she discusses with Montag. Rubbing a dandelion under his chin, for example, and talking about the taste of rain both support this idea.

Finally, though Clarisse's sudden and mysterious death, she represents the victory of what Faber calls the "silent majority." Her death is a symbol of the triumph of censorship and conformity, but, through Montag, her spirit remains an important force in the novel.

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Fahrenheit 451

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