In Fahrenheit 451, what happened to Clarisse and how did Mildred react to the news?

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Mildred lacks the insight that Clarisse possesses. While she is alive, Clarisse shares some of her insights with Montag:

"People don't talk about anything. They name a lot of cars or clothes or swimming pools mostly and say how swell! But they all say the same things and nobody says...

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Mildred lacks the insight that Clarisse possesses. While she is alive, Clarisse shares some of her insights with Montag:

"People don't talk about anything. They name a lot of cars or clothes or swimming pools mostly and say how swell! But they all say the same things and nobody says anything different from anyone else . . . My uncle says it was different once."

This insight into people, human motivation, and history is foreign to Mildred, who is content to exist in the present and with the superficial relationships that Clarisse had noticed in her observations.

When Beatty shows up to explain a few things about the history of books and why they needed to be eliminated, Montag has the courage to ask about Clarisse. Beatty says that Clarisse's crime initiated in wanting to know why things happen when she should have just been content to know how they happen.

Following Beatty's lengthy explanation about why it's necessary to limit the average person's access to information, Montag "sat, as if the house were collapsing about him and he could not move." Mildred simply disappears and returns back to her parlor with her "family." When her husband tells her that he isn't happy with their society, she replies, "I am. And proud of it." And when he tells her that he needs to do something, silently reflecting on his conversations with Clarisse and the life and ideas that died with her, Mildred replies, "I'm tired of listening to this junk."

Mildred doesn't have a sense of compassion. She doesn't have a sense of wonder or the desire to question the world around her. She is the model citizen the government has created, and she acts as they expect her to. By removing the true experience that is life from citizens, the government in Fahrenheit 451 creates people like Millie who are incapable of empathy.

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The classic science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 tells of a tightly controlled future society in which firemen burn books instead of put out fires. At the beginning of the book, Montag the fireman doesn't question his occupation. He even tells Clarisse, a teenager new to the area who he meets walking home, that he loves the smell of kerosene he exudes. Clarisse enjoys the simple things of life such as walking and observing nature. She has to see a psychiatrist because of her unorthodox views. However, Clarisse's free spirit and radical ideas cause Montag to doubt what he does.

On the other hand, Montag's wife Mildred leads a life obsessed with wall-sized media entertainment. The boredom and futility cause her to overdose on sleeping pills and almost die.

After a few weeks of walks, Clarisse disappears. Montag misses her, and finally asks his wife Mildred what has become of her. Mildred says that the family has moved, and Clarisse died after being run over by a car four days previously. Mildred is not completely sure but she thinks that's what happened. She manifests utter indifference over the incident. In other words, she has no reaction at all, so much so that she doesn't bother to tell Montag after it happens. Right after she shares the news, Mildred goes right back to immersion in her artificial entertainment world.

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Towards the end of Part I, "The Hearth and the Salamander," Montag asks Mildred if she's seen Clarisse. Mildred is nonchalant and unemotional about it. She claims that Clarisse is simply "gone." Mildred adds that she'd been meaning to say something about Clarisse but it apparently slipped her mind. According to Mildred, Clarisse's entire family moved away. Only then does Mildred add that she thinks Clarisse is dead. Montag can not believe it, but Mildred continues, still talking like she's repeating something unimportant like relating the weather forecast: 

No. The same girl, McClellan. McClellan, Run over by a car. Four days ago. I'm not sure. But I think she's dead. The family moved out anyway. I don't know. But I think she's dead. 

Montag is not only hurt at the news of Clarisse's death; he's just as appalled that Mildred would forget for four days to tell him about it. This is a moment when Montag really begins to notice how emotionally empty Mildred had become. Later when Montag talks to Beatty about it, Beatty notes that they (firemen and law enforcement) had watched Clarisse's family. Beatty is also nonchalant and adds that Clarisse is better off dead because she was so curious about life, which went against the norms of their society. Beatty says of Clarisse: 

She didn't want to know how a thing was done, but why. That can be embarrassing. You ask Why to a lot of things and you wind up very unhappy indeed, if you keep at it. The poor girl's better off dead. 

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