In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, what is Clarisse McCellan's philosophy?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, television dominates lives and books belong in the past or etched on the memories of those who can remember their contents. "Firemen" are, ironically, the ones doing the burning, namely "dangerous" books, and life is essentially empty. However, no one really stops for long enough to think about this fact. When Guy Montag meets Clarisse McClellan, who recognizes something different in him and wants to understand his perspective, he questions what he thought he knew - "Are you happy?" Clarisse asks him. - and, her philosophy begins his transformation.

Clarisse is unusual for a seventeen year old in this new world order and has no interest in television or the usual empty pastimes of her peers. She has no friends because "social to me means you talk to people about things" and, in school, there is little dialogue and teachers " just run the answers at ya,..."Clarisse is very aware for her age to the point that Montag remarks how old she seems. She asks Montag a lot of questions, in her search for answers because, having watched others, she has concluded that "they all say the same things."

This indicates that Clarisse sees the emptiness in the world and her way of thinking (her philosophy) is that it does not need to be that way. There could be so much more to life. She knows it was different before, based on the stories her uncle told and she longs for something more. As Montag himself notices, people "talk to the walls" and no one "listens." 

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