What is the significance of Montag seeing his reflection in Clarisse's eyes?

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mrsdutko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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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Fahrenheit 451

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