A lover of life and nature, Clarisse, an affable neighbor who is seventeen, is the foil of Mildred — Montag's cold, mindless, conforming wife. Delightfully human and aware of her surroundings, Clarisse disdains the fact-learning that passes for modern education. She enjoys nature. Powered by an insatiable curiosity, Clarisse, whom Beatty labels a "time bomb," serves as the catalyst that impels Montag toward a painful but necessary self-examination. With gentle pricks to his self-awareness, Clarisse reveals to him the absence of love, pleasure, and contentment in his life. Her role in the novel is only the forerunner of the spiritual revitalization completed by Faber and Granger. Her terrible death, nearly repeated when a careening vehicle passes over the tip of Montag's finger, underscores the rampant dehumanization of society and the resulting random acts of violence. Montag's wife, Mildred characterizes shallowness and mediocrity. Her abnormally white flesh and chemically burnt hair epitomize a society that demands an artificial beauty in women through diets and hair dye. Completely immersed in an electronic world and growing more incompatible with Montag with every electronic gadget that enters her house, she fills her waking hours with manic drives in the beetle and by watching a TV clown, who distracts her from her real feelings and leads her nearly to suicide from a drug overdose. Unwilling and unable to analyze rationally, she lives a shallow life in a technological chamber of horrors. She distances herself from real emotion by identifying with "the family," a three-dimensional fiction in which she plays a scripted part. Her longing for a fourth wall of television suggests her capability of submerging in fantasy to withdraw from the roles of wife, mother, and whole human being. Addicted to the labor-saving machines that toast and butter her bread and fill her mind with simplistic entertainment, she forgets to bring...
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