Guy Montag is innately sensitive and imaginative, intelligent but blundering, and quite discontent with his life.
As the narrative opens, Montag walks home from work, thinking that "it was a pleasure to burn" because he finds something creative in the destruction: "the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away...
on a wind turned dark with burning" (Part I). However, when he encounters Clarisse, Montag meets a person who further ignites his imagination and mind by introducing him to new ways of thinking. When he first sees Clarisse, Montag's imagination is captured in a positive way.
The autumn leaves blew over the moonlit pavement in such a way as to make the girl who was moving there seem fixed to a sliding walk, letting the motion of the wind and leaves carry her forward. . . . Her face was slender and milk-white, and in it was a kind of gentle hunger that touched everything with tireless curiosity....Her dress was white and it whispered. He almost thought he heard the motion of her hands as she walked, and the infintely small sound now, the white stir of her face turning (Part I).
Montag is greatly moved by this introduction to such an unusually imaginative and sensitive girl. In fact, his encounter causes Montag to have a "brief rediscovery" of the imaginative feelings he shared with his mother when he was a boy. He is reminded of the time they had a power failure and lit "a last candle" that illuminated space and dimensions which seemed to "draw comfortably around them." (Part I)
As Montag talks with Clarisse, she observes that he does not stop to think about what she has asked him before he responds. Then, before she departs, Clarisse asks Montag if he is happy. Afterwards, Montag finds that his meeting with her has been very strange, for she has awakened feelings in him. Montag feels "his body divide itself . . . the two halves grinding one upon the other" (Part I). Further, when he commits certain acts that are no longer permitted in his society, Montag wants to blame Clarisse, who has "run across the lawn with the mask" and Faber, who speaks in his ear, because these two individuals have revived old feelings and ideas in him.
Later on, Montag makes efforts to revive his humanness by awakening his heart and mind to thoughts and feelings that have been deadened by his technological society. He knows that he must regain individuality. He tells Faber, "I don't want to change sides and just be told what to do. There's no reason to change if I do that" (Part II). Unfortunately, Montag becomes misguided and blunders in his attempts to recapture his existential needs by performing acts like reading aloud to Mildred and her friends. When Montag's house is burned because Mildred betrays him, Beatty compares him to Icarus, who wanted to fly, but went too close to the sun and "burnt his damn wings." As a result, it is only after Montag flees into nature that he finally begins the creative part of his life. Along with the other "books" who live in the woods, Montag joins the regenerative process that will likely take his entire lifetime.