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Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451

            In the book, Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury, two major female characters significantly influence Guy Montag. The two women are Mildred "Millie" Montag, Guy's wife, and a teenager who Guy met named Clarisse McClellan. Clarisse nurtures Guy's interest in books, while Mildred, on the other hand, tries to deny it. In the movie version of Fahrenheit 451, the director Francois Truffaut used the same actress for Mildred and Clarisse to suggest that the two characters were symbolic of the struggle that was going on inside Guy Montag. Clarisse and Mildred represent opposite world-views that compete for dominance over Guy Montag. .
             With incredible speed, Guy's chance encounter with Clarisse turns his world upside down. Clarisse and Montag didn't know each other for a very long time, but she had a major impact upon him. Guy worked as a fireman, setting fires and burning books, which, in the world depicted in Fahrenheit 451, had become obsolete. For ten years Guy performed his role as a book burner with satisfaction and purpose. Within one week of meeting a seventeen-year-old, however, Guy Montag changed his whole perspective on book burning. The young woman, Clarisse, had a viewpoint on life that was completely opposite to the typical person in Fahrenheit 451. Clarisse liked to explore the knowledge of books and take advantage of the "right to think." Unlike the rest of the community, that neither had the desire to read books nor to engage the imagination, Clarisse was not content to watch programs on "parlor walls." Her lack of interest in this activity shows her tendency to creatively think: "I rarely watch the 'parlor walls' or go to races or Fun Parks. So I've lots of time for crazy thoughts, I guess"(9). This passage represents Clarisse's opinion on life and how she prefers to wonder rather than watch the parlor walls. She prefers to engage with life, rather than to passively observe the government-created reality that the "parlor walls" portrayed.

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