Underneath the Outer Shell

Ray Bradbury once famously said, “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them”. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel that helps paint a picture of what the world would be like without books. Books are illegal in this society, from belief that all books do is cause harm and conflict. Therefore, it’s the firemen’s duties to burn them. However, the main character, Montag, struggles with some decisions when his thoughts clash with society. People want to keep thinking to a minimum; but, Clarisse is different in this case. In the story Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the characterization of the supporting character, Clarisse, shows that a different personality lies underneath her “antisocial” shell.

Clarisse’s constant look of hunger and curiosity on her bright, beautiful face comes off as peculiar and isolated; however, on the inside she is perceptive and scrutinises every little detail. When Clarisse is first introduced, her appearance immediately catches peoples’ attention by surprise when they notice a quality in her that most people don’t possess: “Her face fragile milk crystal with a soft and constant light in it. It was… the strangely comfortable and rare and gently flattering light of the candle” (Bradbury 11). In contrast to most people who uphold a very thoughtless and lacklustre lifestyle, Clarisse casts a very intriguing image. Just the way her eyes flicker and absorb every little detail make peoples’ heads turn. To Montag, she’s a breath of fresh hair; however, for others, maybe she’s a little too different. Before getting to know her, even Montag is taken aback by her direct interest in things and exclaims, “‘You are an odd one’… ‘You think too many things’” (12-13). People are so used to the way society has set things that anything different is interpreted as abnormal. This makes it challenging for Clarisse to live without people finding her actions unusual. Clarisse even said herself, “I’m antisocial, they say. I don’t mix” (33). Underneath all of her “quirkiness”, Clarisse’s actions speak strongly about how she feels on the inside: “‘I like to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay up all night, walking, and watch the sunrise’” (11). Clarisse would rather think than stay cooped inside her home watching television, and that’s what many people miss. This is why after getting to know her better, Montag finds that Clarisse provides a fresh point of view on life, because she is thoughtful and imaginative. In conclusion, Clarisse, a beautiful yet confusing girl, puzzles the people around her with her unusual and detailed behaviour.

Personally, I can connect to Clarisse. When I went to a dance summer camp in England, at times I felt like I was different. They liked different foods, music, etc. Not to mention I looked physically different than everyone else. At first I felt a little lonely because I can seem a little introverted in front of new people sometimes. I came off as a little odd (that I flew 14 hours to England, that I’ve been in the same school since I was 3, etc.) compared to them, but once they warmed up to me, they realized I was more outgoing and comfortable.

Image Citation: Kowalczyk, Piotr. “50 Motivating Quotes about Books and Reading.” Ebook Friendly, Ebook Friendly, 31 Aug. 2017, ebookfriendly.com/best-quotes-books-reading/.

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