Why is Clarisse considered abnormal?    

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Fahrenheit 451 Clarisse McLellan is considered abnormal because she is an anachronism. In other words, her actions and ideas are out of place and time for the society in which she lives. For Clarisse has intellectual curiosity and an interest in introspection and analysis in a society that discourages such independent thinking and individualism. 

Clarisse is a pedestrian in a society in which no one walks outdoors; moreover, no one enjoys nature, but Clarisse does. She does silly things such as going outside and opening her mouth when it rains and letting the raindrops land upon her tongue. She tells Montag,

I like to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay up all night, walking, and watch the sun rise.

Clarisse loves to look at the moon and the dewdrops on the grass. She watches people and ponders existential questions such as if someone is happy or why someone does not stop to think about what he/she asks someone. She even has the audacity to ask Montag if he ever reads any of the books that he burns, knowing that reading is against the law.

Unlike the other citizens of her community, Clarisse rarely watches the parlor walls. She does not go to races or Fun Parks as do other citizens. She looks up at the sky at night and sometimes sees "the man in the moon." Above all else, Clarisse enjoys herself and is happy because she actively participates in the world in which she lives. She engages in physical and mental activities, and she interacts with family members in meaningful ways.

marilynn07 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Clarisse is curious about the world around her. She also asks questions regarding the "happiness" of others. She challenges Montag's blind acceptance of the society and what rules the society makes. Clarisse draws Montag into a self-examination that causes him to begin questioning the rules that govern his society. Clarisse is not easily controlled by the "programming" that pervades this society. She questions authority.  Clarisse is fully human and awake, while others are "sleep-walking" through their existence and helped along with sleeping tablets or other chemical substances. The "cousins" on the telescreen offer mind-control and mindless chatter as do the snail-shell ear phones.

Clarisse also does not watch the telescreen but instead has long and involved conversations with others in her family. Obviously, she reads books, but simply has not yet been caught.  Clarisse understands relationships and knows how to relate to others conversationally.