What does Clarisse say people talk about?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Clarisse is a seventeen-year-old girl who curiously shows up along Montag's walk home one night after work. She asks him many introspective questions that "normal" people wouldn't think of; such as, "Are you happy?" (10) or "Do you ever read any of the books you burn?" (8). She even tells him that she is not afraid of him because he is a fireman. He asks her why she would be afraid of him and she says, "So many people are. . . But you're just a man after all. . ." (7).

Montag continues to talk with this girl multiple times. He asks about her life and why she's not in school. She tells him that she goes to therapy because she is "anti-social." She also says that she listens to people at soda fountains and "People don't talk about anything" (31). What Clarisse means is that people don't talk about anything important. They discuss things rather than ideas. For example, she says they will talk about cars, clothes or swimming pools, "But they all say the same things and nobody says anything different from anyone else" (31).

Clarisse is significant because she gets Montag thinking about his daily life, his home, his wife, people's behaviors, and the quality of life as a whole. By realizing that "people don't talk about anything," Montag later says to Faber the following:

"Nobody listens any more. I can't talk to the walls because they're yelling at me. I can't talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, It'll make sense" (82).


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Fahrenheit 451

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