Why does Montag remember the dandelion in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury?

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Early in the book while trying to explain her love of being outside walking in the rain, Clarisse picks a dandelion:

"I guess it's the last of the dandelions this year. I didn't think I'd find one on the lawn this late. Have you ever heard of rubbing it under...

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Early in the book while trying to explain her love of being outside walking in the rain, Clarisse picks a dandelion:

"I guess it's the last of the dandelions this year. I didn't think I'd find one on the lawn this late. Have you ever heard of rubbing it under your chin? Look." She touched her chin with the flower, laughing. "Why?" "If it rubs off, it means I'm in love. Has it?"

Montag remembers this episode with the dandelion after he escapes the city and is sleeping in the loft of a barn, because he sees a woman who reminds him of Clarisse:

He would lie back and look out of the loft window, very late in the night, and see the lights go out in the farmhouse itself, until a very young and beautiful woman would sit in an unlit window, braiding her hair. It would be hard to see her, but her face would be like the face of the girl so long ago in his past now, so very long ago, the girl who had known the weather and never been burned by the fire-flies, the girl who had known what dandelions meant rubbed off on your chin.

The woman, like Clarisse, represents life to him, while in the distance, he hears the sounds of death, represented by the noise of the jets flying in the sky. Mechanization equals death, while the farm equals life.

The farm he has escaped to, the cows, the moonlight, the dandelion, and the woman he sees are all symbols of the new life—the rebirth—he has embraced. They bring back memories of Clarisse, who first awakened him to the idea that there is more to life than the mere existence he was sleepwalking through. He has finally come full circle, acting on the dissatisfactions Clarisse aroused in him, leaving the city and embracing the natural world, which will include the world of books and ideas.

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In Part Three of Fahrenheit 451, Montag is resting in a barn after fleeing the Mechanical Hound in the city. As he thinks about Clarisse, he thinks of the dandelion because she is "the girl who knew what dandelions meant" when they are rubbed under the chin. For Montag, the dandelion is symbolic of his brief relationship with Clarisse because she made him realise that he was not truly happy nor in love before he met her. 

Montag also thinks of the dandelion because, in this moment, it represents his hope for the future. As he lies in the barn, for example, he daydreams and constructs an ideal world in which Clarisse never disappeared and he had a person he could rely on. With so much at stake, Montag is understandably nervous about what will happen next:

This was all he wanted now. Some sign that the immense world would accept him and give him the long time needed to think all the things that must be thought.

In this time of uncertainty, then, the dandelion provides a comforting memory and some optimism for the future. 

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