Clarisse causes Montag to recall a childhood memory in which a wish was involved. What is the significance of the memory and the wish?
At the beginning of the novel, Clarisse is having a conversation with Montag, and he begins to see himself in her eyes. Montag then notices a "soft and constant light" in her appearance, which resembles comforting, gentle candlelight. Montag then recalls a childhood memory of a night when the power went out. Montag was alone in his home with his mother, and she had lit a candle to provide light. While the candle was lit, Montag recalls,
"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 on again too soon" (Bradbury, 3).
The significance of this memory relates to Montag's happiness and reveals his need to escape his superficial, technology-driven society. Montag had experienced a genuine moment of comfort and rediscovery when his mother lit the candle. Montag's wish for the power to not come on again reveals his need for intimacy and time away from the bright lights. In a world constantly filled with flashing lights and images, brief opportunities to escape the flood of entertainment are cherished by sensitive people like Montag.
Montag had been talking to Clarisse. He noticed that the saw himself in her eyes, "suspended in two shining drops of bright water." This makes him remember a candle. "One time, as 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 on again too soon..." (pg 111) The candle is important because it casts a warm light of closeness that Montag hasn't felt in a long time. He has lived a life of alienation and Clarisse's attentions make him begin to question his situation and his loneliness. Even though he says he is "happy" in reality he has not been happy for a very long time. The candle is enlightenment.
When speaking to Clarisse, Montag remembers a time when the power went out in his home when he was a young boy. His mother lit the last candle, causing the warm light to shine on him and his mother. This was a memory where he felt transformed by the different light, which seemed to illuminate his world. His wish was that the light would not come on too soon, causing him to have to be transported back to his existing world. The candle represents the illumination of a new knowledge, a new way of living in his world.