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.