Why does Clarisse have to die in Fahrenheit 451? Why did the author make Clarisse die?

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Clarisse doesn't have to die in this novel. There are several reasons, however, why it makes sense for Clarisse to die.

First, Clarisse functions as a plot device: she is one of the "drops" of water falling on Montag (along with Mildred's suicide attempt) that leads him to begin questioning...

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Clarisse doesn't have to die in this novel. There are several reasons, however, why it makes sense for Clarisse to die.

First, Clarisse functions as a plot device: she is one of the "drops" of water falling on Montag (along with Mildred's suicide attempt) that leads him to begin questioning the way he has been living his life. Once she has fulfilled that function, she in some ways becomes an encumbrance in the novel: after all, an older, married man like Montag can only have a friendship with an underage girl for so long without raising uncomfortable questions, no matter how pure his motives might be. Killing Clarisse gets rid of the problem of a relationship that really can't develop.

Second, killing Clarisse illustrates that this is a society in which people like her can't expect to survive. The society doesn't want thinking, questioning, vitally alive people like Clarisse rocking the boat and raising uncomfortable issues about the culture in which they live. As Beatty says:

The girl? She was a time bomb. ... She didn't want to know how a thing was done, but why. That can be embarrassing. You ask why to a lot of things and you wind up very unhappy indeed, if you keep at it. The poor girl's better off dead.

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In some respects, Clarisse seems like a martyr of sorts, whose life and death serves to reveal the full selfish nihilism on display in this society which Bradbury imagines. From the very beginning of the story, she is characterized as a free-spirit, and someone vibrantly and actively engaged in her own existence (which is rare in a world where most people have been reduced to the status of passive consumers, even within their own lives).

Her death, as an earlier contributor has already pointed out, illustrates just how deeply wrong and monstrous this society is. Clarisse was run over by a car and, furthermore, the larger society does not seem to even care that she was killed. Indeed, when Montag finds out about the incident from Mildred, Mildred admits that she had not told him because she'd forgotten about it. She's too caught up in her own self indulgence. What results is a powerful indictment of the society that Bradbury has envisioned, and the kind of hedonistic lifestyle that lies at its center.

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Each character in a story is included to serve a purpose, whether it is to move the plot forward or to serve as an antagonist to the main character. Clarisse serves several purposes in this novel. She is a teenager, representing innocence and imagination, and is the antithesis of what Montag's society is all about. She provides Montag with the motivation to question his society and his own role in furthering the goals of that society. Clarisse and her family represent what Montag's society could and should be. They talk to one another and care about each other. They aren't lonely or alienated from one another.

Why does Clarisse have to die? Her death emphasizes all that is wrong with Montag's conformist society. Bradbury uses her to show the inhumanity of the society in his novel. If a society would kill a sweet, innocent girl, what does this say about it? Her death intensifies Bradbury's message to the reader.

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