What is a comparison/contrast between Mildred and Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451?  

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Mildred and Clarisse are two women who affect the life of Montag. Clarisse walks around outside and talks with people, asking them how they feel. On the other hand, Mildred stays indoors, unconcerned about emotions or anything very personal.

When Montag meets Clarisse, he notices how her eyes refract his own light. With Clarisse he feels a glowing sensation; however, after he enters his own house,

it feels "like coming into the cold marbled room of a mausoleum after the moon has set.

He finds Mildred with the thimble radio in her ears; her eyes stare blankly because she has overdosed on sleeping tablets, and he must phone the emergency number. On the following day, Mildred acts as though nothing unusual has happened. She is only concerned with watching the large screens in her living room and interacting with characters on the screen. But, when he talks with Clarisse, she is interested in Montag, having asked him if he ever reads the books he confiscates and burns; she also wants to know what he thinks.

Because of her intellectual curiosity and interest in human feelings, Clarisse poses a danger to Montag that Mildred, who refuses to have anything to do with the books that Montag later brings some into the house. In fact, Clarisse is responsible for the metamorphosis of Montag as he moves from fireman to one who reads and protects books. For it is she who has asked Montag if he ever reads the books he confiscates; it is Clarisse who has sparked Montag's interest in learning of the human experience through reading.

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