What is Clarisse's function in Fahrenheit 451, and how does she affect Montag?

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Clarisse's function in the novel Fahrenheit 451 is that of a devil's advocate in a way, and even a prod that gets Montag thinking more about the world he lives in. She causes Montag to question the stark reality of the morally bankrupt world in which he lives. Before he crossed paths with her, Montag walked, talked, and lived as if desensitized and numb to the degradation of individual freedom around him. He was part of the problem to use a contemporary phrase, but Clarisse awakens him and he is now becoming part of the solution -  at least for himself and those who think like him.

He and others who have awakened to the Truth now desire to take action. They no longer accept the status quo imposed on them by the government, as well as others in society who are unwilling and/or afraid to question why things are the way they are. Clarisse is responsible for sparking this change in Montag and she sets him on a course that he does not want to abandon because now he feels alive and motivated to cause further change in society.

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Clarisse is the opposite of Millie--she is open-eyed and observant.  She asks questions.  She probes and wonders, and THINKS for herself.  She is a breath of fresh air for Montag, but she is also dangerous to be associated with since she is everything the government would not approve of and will have to extinguish (which eventually they do).

Clarisse is responsible for Montag's metamorphosis.  She gets him to really see the moon and to consider how things work and effect you--smells and tastes, and life in general.  She is the stuff that books are made of...in the flesh.  Her family is responsible for this since they are all thinkers and doers of actions contrary to the government's approval--they are pedestrians and rememberers of the way things used to be.

Without Clarisse, Montag would still be married to witless Millie, watching the walls of their living room and burning books for a living.

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Meeting Clarisse starts Montag's change. Her curiosity and questioning is so unique that Montag is struck by her. He had never met someone who asks "why" instead of "how," who knows that there is dew on the grass in the morning, or who takes walks for pleasure and relaxation. When Clarisse asks Montag if he is in love, he really begins to feel uncomfortable because his immediate answer should have been yes (since he is married), but he had to question his answer before he could reply positively. Still, her question haunts him throughout much of the novel.

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