In Fahrenheit 451, what is the significance of Montag seeing his reflection in Clarisse's eyes?

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Montag literally sees himself in Clarisse's eyes and this is significant because she, like a mirror, challenges him to look at himself - not just his reflection but his entire existence and the world he lives in. Clarisse asks him probing questions such as whether or not he is happy and whether he's read any of the books he's burned. Clarisse gets Montag to start questioning everything in his life. She literally and figuratively serves as a kind of interrogating mirror; she challenges Montag to look at himself. He thinks about this following one of their conversations and remarks how rare it is that he encounters someone who interacts significantly with him. Most of his relationships, even with his wife, are based on mindless repetition. But with Clarisse, Montag gets a sense of real connection and a sense of significant communication. He thinks: 

How like a mirror, too, her face. Impossible; for how many people did you know that refracted your own light to you? People were more often--he searched for a simile, found one in his work--torches, blazing away until they whiffed out. How rarely did other people's faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought? 

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This scene comes when Montag first meets Clarisse, and she expresses the surprising opinion (to him) that she is not afraid of him, because although most people are scared of firemen, she can see that he is just a man:

He saw himself in her eyes, suspended in two shining drops of bright water, himself dark and tiny, in fine detail, the lines about his mouth, everything there, as if her eyes were two miraculous bits of violet amber that might capture and hold him intact.
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

By seeing himself in her eyes, Montag comes to the realization that she is correct; he is just a man, like any other man. More importantly, he is a product of society, common, ordinary; his job is just another job, no more or less important than that of anyone else. This realization starts the process that shocks him out of his complacency, and gives him the motivation to try and become a reasoning individual instead of a faithful, unthinking cog in society.

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For one thing, this makes him recall a moment with his mother. When he was a child, the power had gone out and they were left with one candle and found themselves in an intimate moment of person-to-person communication and glances. In this society where people gave all of their attention to technological devices (parlour shows), such interaction would have been rare. Seeing himself in Clarisse's eyes makes him recall this idea of people interacting with one another and actually communicating. 

One time, when he was a child, in a power-failure, his mother had found and lit a last candle and there had been a brief hour of rediscovery, of such illumination that the space lost its vast dimensions and drew comfortably around them, and they, mother and son, alone, transformed, hoping that the power might not come on again too soon . . . 

A few pages later, Montag reflects some more upon the idea of Clarisse as a mirror. He tries to think about why this has affected him so much. He concludes: 

People were more often - her searched for a simile, found one in his work-torches, blazing away until they whiffed out. How rarely did other people's faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought? 

In Montag's experience, people do not listen to one another. They simply spew out their own (thoughtless) thoughts and these are usually selfish and/or without any genuine sense of empathy or consideration of the person he/she might be talking to. But Clarisse, being a thoughtful person, is considerate and empathetic. She throws a lot of questions at Montag because she is curious but she also wants to know about him. When she ends their conversation by asking if he is happy, Montag is confounded. He never gets this kind of depth and interest from his wife, Mildred. His conversations with Clarisse cause him to think more deeply about a lot of things and perhaps most significantly, these conversations implore him to evaluate himself. This is the manifestation of his idea that Clarisse was like a mirror because she has provoked him to reflect upon himself. 

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Montag is on his way home from work, a job that he loves because it allows him to burn and revel in the destruction that fire allows him to create. He is wearing his fireman's uniform, with sigil, and runs into Clarisse for the first time on his way home. In a completely unromantic way, Montag is struck by her eyes and by her direct and guileless manner. She introduces herself and mentions that he doesn't inspire fear in her, letting the reader know that many people in this society are fearful of firemen. 

He saw himself in her eyes, suspended in two shining drops of bright water, himself dark and tiny, in fine detail, the lines about his mouth, everything there, as if her eyes were two miraculous bits of violet amber that might capture and hold him intact. (5)

Montag is momentarily mesmerized by her eyes and it takes him back to his childhood, crystallizing a memory about when technology failed and he used a candle to light his home. Montag's image reflected in Clarisse's eyes signifies how Montag is just a man. He sees a tiny version of himself and he, ever so briefly, connects with Clarisse. In this new society, personal connections are rare and are generally not encouraged. Montag's relationship with his wife, Mildred, juxtaposes itself with this new connection, highlighting their fragmented marriage. 

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In Ray Bradbury’s science fiction novel of a futuristic dystopian society in which the possession of books, with the knowledge they contain, is a serious crime, and in which firemen exist to burn books when discovered, the character of Montag is a symbol of the repressive state in which this city’s residents live.  He, of course, is a fireman, and is accustomed to setting fire, along with his colleagues, to previously-hidden caches of books, and to the buildings in which they were stored.  He has had no reason to question the nature of his profession; it’s a job, and the government deems it essential.  His encounter with 17-year-old Clarisse, however, precipitates the gradual but steady transformation in Montag’s psyche that will propel Fahrenheit 451 to its eventual conclusion.  This encounter occurs early in the novel, and Montag is quickly removed from his insulated, safe comfort zone by this inquisitive and lovely young woman.  Firemen are authority figures to be feared, in this society, but Clarisse does not shy away from engaging Montag in conversation:

"So many people are. Afraid of firemen, I mean. But you're just a man, after all..."

He saw himself in her eyes, suspended in two shining drops of bright water, himself dark and tiny, in fine detail, the lines about his mouth, everything there, as if her eyes were two miraculous bits of violet amber that might capture and hold him intact. Her face, turned to him now, was fragile milk crystal with a soft and constant light in it. It was not the hysterical light of electricity but-what? But the strangely comfortable and rare and gently flattering light of the candle. One time, when he was a child, in a power-failure, his mother had found and lit a last candle and there had been a brief hour of rediscovery, of such illumination that space lost its vast dimensions and drew comfortably around them, and they, mother and son, alone, transformed, hoping that the power might not come on again too soon ....

This encounter with Clarisse is transformative.  Montag, for the first time, is seeing human existence through a different light – the light that emanates from this vivacious and beautiful girl.  She is innocent and seemingly carefree, and suggests to the hardened fireman an alternative reality.  When he sees his reflection in Clarisse’s eyes, he is viewing himself through a previously closed window.  In a sense, this passage could be considered platitudinous, a little of the old ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul’ routine.  Only, Montag isn’t peering into Clarisse’s soul; he’s peering into his own, and he begins to not like what he sees.  The symbolism of this scene, then, lies in the awakening Montag experiences from having gazed into the eyes of innocence and freedom.

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When Montag sees his own reflection in Clarisse's eyes, I think he is seeing himself through a different lens, or way of seeing things. Everything Montag perceives in his life in Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is based upon the propaganda he has been fed all his life, which he believes without question. With Clarisse's infuence, we see...

...the transformation of Montag from an obedient servant of the state to a questioning human being.

Clarisse provides a new point of reference so that Montag starts to question what he believes of the world, of himself, and of his place in the world—burning books, houses, and eventually, watching a woman die rather than give up her books.

When Montag meets Clarisse, they begin to discuss her ideas, which are extremely foreign to Montag. She asks questions that are often difficult or impossible for him to conceive, let along answer.

"Are you happy?" she said.

"Am I what?" he cried.

Happiness is a concept that Montag does not think about. He thinks about his job. He likes to watch things burn. He essentially remains passive, avoiding any behavior that might draw attention to him. (This is especially important later when we learn that Montag's theft of a book from the fire at 105 Elm is not his first.) At first he insists in a conversation in his brain that he is happy, but quickly realizes that he is lying to himself. Had Clarisse not asked the question, he would never have asked himself.

In their discussions, Montag notes:

How like a mirror, too, her face. Impossible; for how many people did you know that refracted your own light to you?

Clarisse is honest with Montag. This act opens his eyes.

Early on, Clarisse notices things about him when they speak of his profession. He tells her that he can never quite get rid of the smell of the kerosene they use to burn the books. Her questions get Montag to thinking:

Last night I thought about all the kerosene I've used in the past ten years.  And I thought about books.  And for the first time I realized that a man was behind each one of the books.

And in looking at the reflection of himself in Clarisse's eyes, he realizes that he doesn't see the cows in the fields or colors of the flowers as his car speeds along its way. He does not have fun: putting a yellow flower beneath his chin or catching rain on his tongue. In Clarisse, the child is still alive, full of questions—simple questions that have anything but simple answers.

As he perceives himself through Clarisse's eyes, he begins to question everything in his world. And though Clarisse is later killed in a car accident, her way of looking at the world has changed Montag. In studying himself through Clarisse's worldview, his perceptions change, and ultimately, so does his destiny. In the challenges Clarisse put to Montag, she not only allows him to start thinking for himself, but eventually the enlightenment he experiences saves his life.

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I believe that this is symbolic of what happens to Montag when he meets Clarisse.  It shows how he sees his life through her eyes and that makes him change.  So he's seeing himself in her eyes (literally) but that's a metaphor or a symbol for him seeing himself (figuratively) through her eyes.

To Clarisse, Montag has sort of lost his ability to think and to perceive and to relax.  She talks to him about all the kinds of things she does and he realizes his life isn't like that.  After he sees himself through her eyes, he changes and starts to think more about himself and life.

You can say that it is after he sees himself through her eyes that he rebels.

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Montag recognizes himself in Clarisse's eyes, indicating that there is a reflection of himself in her.  Although he doesn't fully realize or recognize what qualities of himself are present in her, he is aware that there is a kinship between them.  Clarisse's presence in his life leads him to develop thoughts and feelings that eventually dictate the "radical" actions he takes.  Just as Clarisse is different from the norm in Montag's society, he also becomes different.  His true feelings, which have gone unheeded, are reflected in Clarisse.

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This dystopia that Bradbury has created is built upon primal pleasures.  These pleasures are individual, and personal connections are not encouraged.  Personal relationships might lead people to want more than just 'pleasure', thus causing citizens to rebel against their society.  When Montag sees himself in Clarisse's eyes, this indicates a connection between two souls.  The eyes are, after all, the window to the soul.  To touch into the humanity is to reject the teachings of this new American society.  This foreshadows Montag's rebellion.

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