In Fahrenheit 451, how does Montag begin to think for himself?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montag is content in his life as a fireman, burning books, although he is somewhat troubled and doesn't know why. He is spurred to begin questioning society by his meeting with Clarisse, a girl who lives nearby. Her "anti-social" behavior includes refusing to participate in the television culture, and taking time to feel and experience live outside her house, instead of confining herself like other people. Through her, Montag begins to question societal norms:

"Being with people is nice. But I don't think it's social to get a bunch of people togetherand then not let them talk, do you?"
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

Clarisse draws attention to the oddness of society, the people who don't debate events but simply mimic what they saw on TV, and the extreme violence practiced either at random or for catharsis. Her viewpoint incites Montag to think about society and about books; he comes to realize that nothing in books is as distressful or antagonizing as the accepted practices he sees every day.