Fahrenheit 451 Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

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

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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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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amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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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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allyson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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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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zumba96 | Student

She helps Montage notice the difference in the world and help urge him to notice the beauty around. She made him realize that the society is wrong and is the turning point to where he starts to question his society and open his eyes. 

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acompanioninthetardis | Student

Clarisse is a 17 year old girl who immediately stands out to Montague because she stands out form the others. she opens his eyes to things he's never noticed before (for example, asking him to look at wet grass and notice its beauty). she asks him if hes happy a question that causes Montague to turn around and start trying to discover what people found so great in books. 

Chantelm | Student

Clarisse helps open Montag's eyes to the outer world. When Clarisse comes along Montag starts to think about things he would never imagine, he starts exploring and not conforming to society. He starts questioning things and looking further into things.

parama9000 | Student

She represents good and is urging Montag to reflect whether what he has done is really for the good.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

Clarisse had a huge impact on Montag. One day she questioned him "Are you Happy".  Clarisse is the one that makes  Montag realize how wrong this society is. SHe is the one that makes him realize what he had done. She represents the good in the society. She is described as white. White represents pure in Literature. She causes Montag to question himself. Overall Clarisse is the reason that Montag changed.

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lilypad110 | Student

Im my opinion. Clairisse is as important as Farber or Beatty in the novel even though she only appers at the begining. She gets the story going and helps develop the plot with her insightful questions. 

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sophiasu52 | Student

Clarisse is a seventeen year old young woman who walks with Montag on his trips home from work. She is unusual sort of person in the bookless society: outgoing, naturally cheerful, and unusually intuitive. She is unpopular among her peers and disliked by teachers for asking "why" instead of "how" and focusing on nature rather than on technology. She often skips school because she thinks it is a pointless routine, a repetition. She shows Montag that he is not in love with his wife, Mildred, whom Montag has been married to for ten years. This embarrassed Montag and he tries to deny it, but inside, he knows it is true. Only a short time after meeting Montag she disappears without any explanation, although Mildred and Captain Beatty claim she was killed in a car accident.

 Clarisse represents innocence. In a society based upon blind acceptance of government policy, constant search for raw, immediate gratification, she likes "to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay up all night, walking, and watching the sunrise". Clarisse does not accept the values set forth for her by society, and rarely takes part in activities, such as jet car racing, which appeal to the need for constant unthinking stimulation and are most preferred by the majority. Clarisse is an individual who is in touch with her own soul, and she is able to see the world around her and honestly evaluate its worth.

Her affect on Montag is huge. She is Montag's "inspriation". She is responsible for Montag's change. She also made him realize that he wasn't happy.

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katieparrett | Student

Clarisse effects Montag because in the beginning of the book Montag thought like everyone else in their society. He had no idea that there was history he never knew about and he was never interested because everything seemed fine the way it was. Then Clarisse started walking with him and telling him all these things he had never heard before. Kind of like fun facts and it made Montag start to question if the world really has been the way it is now. She made him curious and question life itself.

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shizza123 | Student

Clarisse is Montag's inspiration in Fahrenheit 451.

If we think about it, even Faber loves books and knows their importance, but he does nothing to save them. This is because he doesn't have an inspiration to encourage him. Montag didn't have an inspiration either, until Clarisse came in. She makes Guy think of how great the world would be if everyone was like Clarisse.

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