Fahrenheit 451

Characteristics of Clarisse and Mildred?

In Fahrenheit 451, what are Clarisse and Mildread's physical descriptions, behaviors, interests, and associated images and/or symbols?

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Mildred (Millie) Montag

Montag's wife of ten years epitomizes the shallowness and complacentness of society that Montag comes to despise. Millie forgoes real happiness to immerse herself in the technological gadgets of the age, such as her television walls and seashell radios, which allow her a constant escape from reality. Millie's need for escape also leads her to a suicide attempt that after recovering from, she does not even recall. Eventually, Millie is overwhelmed by her husband's discovery and dedication to books, reports his illegal activity and flees the house. Millie, the epitome of Fahrenheit 451's empty society, is undoubtedly destroyed when the city is decimated by an atomic bomb at the conclusion of the novel.

Clarisse McClellan

Clarisse is a wide-eyed 17 year old girl to whom Montag is drawn. Clarisse is interested in parts of the world Montag doesn't understand, such as watching people, looking at the moon, and smelling the leaves. Clarisse has no taste for the advanced technology her society has come to depend on, and thus represents the antithesis of Millie, Montag's wife. Montag admires Clarisse for her curiosity and awareness of the world around her, and is disturbed by her accurate understanding of his empty, loveless life. Thus, Clarisse is the first to encourage Montag on his path to self-awareness. Soon after she and Montag develop a friendship, Clarisse is killed by a speeding car. Her death represents the intolerance of an overbearing, dehumanized society for those who do not conform.