In Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, what does the psychiatrist say is "wrong" with Clarisse?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A psychiatrist living in an illiterate and hedonistic society would think that there is something wrong with Clarisse because she is the complete opposite of everyone else. She is kind, fun, happy, and probably literate, or at least taught by someone who is, (her uncle) because she has profound thoughts and asks deep questions. The psychiatrist asks her why she pays attention to nature rather than watching TV like everyone else in their society. He even calls her "a regular onion," to which she tells Montag that she keeps "him busy peeling away the layers" (22).

Most people in Clarisse and Montag's world either watch TV all day, listen to music with their radio "shells," and drive cars too fast to notice nature or anyone else in the world. Since Clarisse does not do these things as other people do in their world, they think something must be wrong. She explains in the following passage:

"They want to know what I do with my time. I tell them that sometimes I just sit and think. But I won't tell them what. I've got them running. And sometimes, I tell them, I like to put my head back, like this, and let the rain fall in my mouth" (23).

Clarisse also says that she doesn't know what her psychiatrist actually thinks of her; therefore, the text never says what they actually think is "wrong" with her. However, based on the evidence of their society and how Montag views her as different, it can be inferred that the only thing that is "wrong" with Clarisse is she has an imagination and she isn't driven by hedonism as her society defines it. She finds joy in nature and thinking rather than just existing. 

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Fahrenheit 451

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