How is Montag's home different from Clarisse's? Why is he drawn to her home?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Described in words suggestive of a tomb, Montag's house, barren of the interchange of love and ideas, stands in contrast to Clarisse's brightly lit home in which resides a loving family.

Montag talks to Clarisse, a strange young woman who lives near him, as they walk near her house, where all the lights are "blazing." Taken aback by such an illuminated home, Montag asks Clarisse, "What's going on?" Clarisse replies, "Oh, just my mother and father and uncle sitting around, talking.... Oh, we're most peculiar." This is not at all like Montag's home life, as his wife rarely hears anything that he says to her. After ten years of wearing headphones ("seashells"), she has become accomplished at lip reading. If she does talk to her husband, the conversation is about such trivialities as the new script for her part in the television-show play that will air on the parlor walls.

One night Montag looks over at his wife, feeling that he is in "someone else's house." He recalls the night the technicians came and pumped out Mildred's drugs. In contrast to Clarisse's loving, warm home, Montag's house is "so empty." Now Montag feels that there are walls between him and Mildred. On these walls dwell the "gibbering pack" that Mildred watches and with whom she "interacts." He considers the absurd name for this room where Mildred spends her day watching trivial shows: "The living room; what a good job of labeling that was now. No matter when he came in, the walls were always talking to Mildred."

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montag has a home life typical of his society. He works and his wife watches television on giant view screens. Their house is dark. Montag and Mildred don't talk much, and they never communicate on a deeper level, which is why Montag is surprised when Mildred attempts suicide. The two don't spend any time outdoors.

In contrast, Clarisse's home is filled with blazing light and laughter. People talk and talk:

Montag heard the voices talking, talking, talking, giving, talking, weaving, reweaving their hypnotic web.

Clarisse and her family also spend time outdoors. They walk places, which is highly unusual. Clarisse talks to Montag about what she observes, such as the morning dew, the smell of leaves, and the moon. She tells him she and her family hardly ever turn on their giant view screens. Instead, she does startling things:

Once he saw her shaking a walnut tree, once he saw her sitting on the lawn knitting a blue sweater, three or four times he found a bouquet of late flowers on his porch, or a handful of chestnuts in a little sack, or some autumn leaves neatly pinned to a sheet of white paper and thumbtacked to his door. Every day Clarisse walked him to the corner.

Clarisse represents an old-fashioned world of simple human interaction and involvement with nature that seems stunning to Montag—and starts to stir his thoughts in new directions.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Fahrenheit 451, there is a strong contrast between Montag and Clarisse's homes. Montag's house, for example, is filled with "darkness," dominated by the parlour walls and cold like a "mausoleum." Clarisse's home, on the other hand, is bright and filled with the voices of her family talking. His reaction demonstrates how drawn he is to this environment:

"What's going on?" Montag had rarely seen that many house lights.

For Montag, Clarisse's home is symbolic of his growing sense of unhappiness and his increasing desire to question the status quo. The brightness of her home is welcoming and this explains why Montag sneaks out of his own home and listens to the McClellan's talking late at night. Subconsciously, Montag wants to feel part of a family and a community because he is trapped in a cold and unloving marriage to Mildred and in a job that he is starting to hate. Clarisse's home, therefore, represents the change that Montag is so keen to bring to his own unhappy life.