Fahrenheit 451

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Clarisse McClellan Character Analysis

Montag's teenaged neighbor. She is unlike anyone Montag has met before. She has no interest in the violent, thrill-seeking pastimes of her peers. She prefers to walk, engage in conversation, observe the natural world, and observe people. Her questioning, free spirit starts Montag thinking about his own life and his place in society.

Clarisse McClellan Quotes in Fahrenheit 451

The Fahrenheit 451 quotes below are all either spoken by Clarisse McClellan or refer to Clarisse McClellan. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Fahrenheit 451 published in 2013.
Part 1 Quotes
It was a pleasure to burn.
Related Characters: Clarisse McClellan (speaker), Guy Montag
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

The famous first sentence of the novel introduces readers to a world in which firemen start fires instead of putting them out. Guy Montag, the main character of the novel, is a fireman, and seems to take great pleasure in his work. Guy doesn't see anything morally objectionable about using fire to destroy "improper" literature--on the contrary, he seems to believe that he's doing the right thing.

The sentence also alludes to the dark side of Guy's society. Authority figures like Guy act as if they're doing the "right thing" by burning down people's houses. But secretly, it's implied, they act out of a savage, primal desire to destroy--in short, Guy's society is controlled by cruel and brutal people pretending to be voices of morality. Guy's society is also hopelessly violent thanks to the omnipotence of television and sensationalized entertainment.

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"Are you happy?"
Related Characters: Clarisse McClellan (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

Guy's mysterious neighbor, Clarisse McClellan, asks Guy a simple yet slightly sinister question: "Are you happy?" Even more oddly, Clarisse runs inside before Guy can answer, leaving him alone to ponder his own happiness.

The very fact that Guy perceives Clarisse's question as bizarre tells us a great deal about their society. In the future, it would seem, conversations about one's emotions and deep thoughts are discouraged--people focus more on distraction and entertainment than on their feelings. Thus, a question as simple as "Are you happy?" is a shock. Up until now, Guy has blindly accepted the rules of his society without questioning any of them. In doing so, Guy has ignored his innate sense of morality, and even his innate sense of happiness. By analyzing his own happiness, Guy can begin to rebel against his society's corruption.

"You're not like the others. I've seen a few; I know. When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The others would never do that."
Related Characters: Clarisse McClellan (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Guy and his neighbor, Clarisse, bond over their common characteristics--their thoughtfulness, their curiosity, etc. Clarisse is amazed that Guy is a fireman--a profession that she associates with brutality and cruelty. Clarisse sees a different side of Guy: she finds him sensitive and compassionate. In an increasingly superficial, vapid society, Guy is still capable of (somewhat) deep thought, as evidenced by the way he studies the moon.

Clarisse's comments on Guy's personality suggest that Guy's society is forcing him to become something he's not. Because his society celebrates distraction and superficial entertainment, thoughtful, introspective people are pressured into mindlessness. Over the course of the novel, Guy will learn to escape the deafening influence of television and get in touch with his inquisitive spirit.

"I'm antisocial, they say. I don't mix. It's so strange. I'm very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn't it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this."
Related Characters: Clarisse McClellan (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

As Guy gets to know Clarisse, he discovers that she's been punished in the past for being, allegedly, "antisocial." Clarisse didn't have a good time at school because of her suppose antisocial tendencies, which alienated her from her peers. But here, Clarisse makes it clear that "antisocial" is a biased, arbitrary term. By readers' standards, Clarisse is interesting and thoughtful. And yet because she refuses to conform to society--to be superficial and loud and aggressive--she's labeled antisocial and condemned by her peers. Ironically, Clarisse is both the character who most resembles the likely reader of Fahrenheit 451 and character who least resembles the average citizen of the fictional society of Fahrenheit 451. Thus she is a kind of link character, a voice of sanity in an overwhelming, insane world.

Bradbury critiques the strong conformity of American society in the 1950s. Those who are "different," both in the 50s and in the novel, are condemned and made to feel imperfect. It takes a lot of courage and strength for Clarisse to remain aloof from her society--instead of giving in and watching television with everyone else, she remains curious and thoughtful about the real world and her own inner life.

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Clarisse McClellan Character Timeline in Fahrenheit 451

The timeline below shows where the character Clarisse McClellan appears in Fahrenheit 451. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
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As he walks home, Montag encounters a teenage girl standing alone. She introduces herself as Clarisse McClellan, a new neighbor, and asks if she can walk home with him. She notes... (full context)
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Clarisse says that in her family people actually walk places, in contrast to people in their... (full context)
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On his way to work, Montag meets Clarisse again. She is walking in the rain, tasting the raindrops and holding dandelions. She applies... (full context)
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Clarisse tells Montag that she thinks it's strange that he's a fireman, since other firemen won't... (full context)
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After Clarisse leaves, Montag opens his mouth to taste the raindrops while he walks to work. (full context)
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For the next week, Montag sees Clarisse every day. They have conversations about their friendship, about children, about the smell of old... (full context)
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...suicide by setting the Mechanical Hound to his own chemical fingerprint. And then, one day, Clarisse is not there to walk him to the subway when he goes to work. (full context)
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...Mildred responds that the McClellans moved out four days ago. She adds that the girl (Clarisse) was run over by a car and killed. (full context)
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Montag asks about Clarisse, and Beatty reveals that he'd been keeping an eye on the McClellan family for some... (full context)
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...together. Montag wants to understand why someone like Beatty would be afraid of someone like Clarisse. Montag and Mildred sit on the floor and start reading. (full context)
Part 3
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As the neighbors come out to watch, Montag glances toward Clarisse's empty house. Beatty notices and mocks Montag for being influenced by her nonsense. Mildred runs... (full context)
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...turns out to be joyriding teenagers. He wonders if they're the same kids who killed Clarisse. Continuing in darkness, he sneaks into the house of another fireman, hides his books in... (full context)
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...stumbles across a railroad track. As he walks along the track, he feels certain that Clarisse once walked the same route. (full context)
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...the explosion knocks the men down. As he huddles against the ground, Montag thinks of Clarisse, already dead, Faber, on a bus to another annihilated city, and Mildred, whom he imagines... (full context)