What do you think happened to Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451? Do you think Beatty knew more than he told Montag? Why is Montag so upset that Clarisse is gone?

The reader never learns for sure what happens to Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451. Judging by what Beatty says during his visit to Montag when Montag is sick, Clarisse was probably killed by the government for her subversive thinking. It is clear that Beatty knows more about what happened to Clarisse than he lets on to Montag, who is distraught over the disappearance and likely death of his close friend.

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In the classic dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Montag's meeting with Clarisse early in the first part is crucial to his development as a character. He is presented as a fireman who thinks that it is "a pleasure to burn." However, he obviously has conflicted thoughts about what he is doing. After all, as readers discover later, he has been secretly stealing and hoarding books for quite some time.

Montag meets seventeen-year-old Clarisse, and they converse together while they take an evening walk. Clarisse has an energetic spirit and is full of new and fresh ideas. He meets her numerous times after that, and their conversations touch him deeply. He gets to know her and care for her as a unique individual. He is upset when she doesn't show up for their walk one day. He is even more upset when Mildred tells him that Clarisse is dead, having been run over by a car, because he has come to depend on her. She has had the courage to openly express the rebellion and longing for freedom of thought that has been growing in his heart.

After Montag becomes sick, Beatty the fire chief comes to visit him. Beatty is educated, cynical, malevolent, and dedicated to preserving the system that eradicates books. He taunts and threatens Montag. His objective is to frighten Montag into continuing to do his job without question or, failing that, to draw Montag out so that he incriminates himself. Montag (and the readers of the book) may have thought at first that Clarisse simply died in an auto accident, but what Beatty says to Montag calls this simple explanation into question.

Beatty admits that Clarisse's family has been under investigation for some time. He refers to Clarisse as a "time bomb" and says that she is "better off dead." He exclaims, "we know how to nip most of them in the bud," referring to unorthodox young people like Clarisse. These comments lead us to believe that Beatty certainly knows more than he is telling about what happened to Clarisse and that she was probably murdered because of her free-thinking attitudes.

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Clarisse McClellan is really like nobody else Montag has ever met. She is full of novel and subversive ideas and enthusiastically shares them with Montag. Their series of conversations has quite the effect on Montag and is largely the reason why he begins to question many of his long-held beliefs. This is because Clarisse, unlike almost everyone else, is not afraid to ask meaningful questions. As their meetings progress, Montag grows to care deeply for Clarisse and respects her as an individual.

One day, when Clarisse does not arrive for one of their regular walks and conversations, Montag becomes very alarmed. The reader never truly discovers what happens to Clarisse. Instead, we are left to wonder if she was really killed in an auto accident, as Mildred says. It is possible that her ideas and questions are too subversive for her to exist in a world in which independent thought is forbidden.

Whatever the case, Montag is deeply distraught by Clarisse's disappearance and the news of her death. She had opened the door to free thought for Montag. Now that Montag has been able to better formulate his doubts, he is unable to imagine how to proceed without Clarisse.

When Captain Beatty comes to visit Montag when he stays home from work, it becomes clear that the fire chief knows more than he lets on. Beatty tells Montag that Clarrise's family are known subversives and that they have been under surveillance for a while. The many disparaging remarks that Beatty makes concerning Clarisse leads us to suspect that Beatty is somehow responsible for Clarisse's disappearance and likely demise.

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