Clarissa causes Montag to recall a childhood memory in which a wish was embedded. What was the significance of the memory and the wish in Fahrenheit 451?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 1 of Fahrenheit 451, Montag meets Clarissa one night when he gets off work. While the two of them are talking, Clarissa makes Montag think of a memory from his childhood. In this society people are not encouraged to remember or think about things from the past, but the memory touches Montag deeply.

But the strangely comfortable and rare and gently flattering light of the candle. One time, when he was a child, in a power-failure, his mother had found and lit a last candle and there had been a brief hour of rediscovery, of such illumination that space lost its vast dimensions and drew comfortably around them, and they, mother and son, alone, transformed hoping that the power might not come again too soon...

This memory contrasts sharply with the new society, in which a person is programmed to think and feel a certain way. Lights are bright and there is always noise of some kind. Books are being destroyed. The memory shows that Montag remembers his mother and a special bond of mother and child. He remembers how it felt to be truly loved and accepted by someone. Human connections are something of the past, but Montag remembers what they felt like. It is also a symbol of enlightenment. The society wants to keep everyone in the "dark" about things, yet Montag is on his way to realizing what is really important. 

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Fahrenheit 451

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