“Are you Happy?”

There is a great level of Juxtaposition between characters in Fahrenheit 451 starting very early in the novel. In the first few pages the character Clarisse is introduced and her appearance creates an obvious contrast between herself and the main character during their first meeting. The contrast between Clarisse and other characters continues to increase as the story moves forward and other characters become more defined. While other characters focus on their technology and don’t stop to think about others or situations, she is more aware of the world and people around her, having more thought and questions. It is this first meeting with Clarisse that triggers Montag to create his own questions about everything around him. Montag’s character develops greatly between the short time when he first meets Clarisse and right before leaving when she asks him, “Are you happy?” Having his happiness questioned frustrates Montag, yet he starts to come to a realization that he is in fact not happy and the technology and the banning of books only creates an illusion of happiness, “He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself. He recognized this as the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back.” (Bradbury 12) This moment of realization for Montag is the start of his development as a character; he now knows the problems with society and what has been lost by the lack of books, their content, and thought. This kind of character development is common in dystopic literature, and is evident in Anthem where the main character also realizes problems with the functioning of society. Differently they do not experience a moment of change but start to pick up on the faults of society on their own. But both characters attempt to change what they think is wrong, such as attempting to make people see the good in books again, but their understanding has separated them too far from the rest of society, and others refuse to listen.
-Sarah

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~ by sarahswe on June 9, 2010.

7 Responses to ““Are you Happy?””

  1. It seems that Montag has a connection with this Clarisse. Does she feel the same way as he does? Meaning like, does she question society and their law of burning books?

    • Yes, it was originally Clarisse that questioned the books burnings as well as other functions of society, which is rare. It was because of this that Montag started to question the same things and begin to find faults in their ‘perfect’ society.

  2. Do they, Equality 7-2521 from Anthem & Montag, make mistakes in whom they are able to trust before they become more savvy in navigating the paths of their individual rebellions?

    • Both characters do seem to face a similar situation where they thought they could trust another character, and while this trust was a mistake both of them learned from it. Montag trusted Mildred with his secret of possessing the books, but in the end it was her who reported him to the firemen, showing how little emotional connection there was between the two. Equality 7-2521 attempted to present his discovery of electricity to the World Council of Scholars, which they rejected and tried to destroy because it was unauthorized. Both became more aware that there aren’t many people they would be able to trust because in a highly controlled society people were all brought up to think the same way, and now one person is differing from this. I think they then realize that the best path is to escape from this control, because staying meant they would eventually be punished for their thoughts and actions.

  3. Clarisse is the catalyst that starts Montag to really think about the problems in society. I would really consider her similar to Ofglen, in The Handmaid’s Tale. Both are the first influences on the main character that society may not be as perfectly arraigned as it seems. I’m interested in reading to the end of this book to see if Ofglen and Clarisse share other characteristics, such as how Ofglen’s influences do not seem to do much good in working towards rebellion.

  4. arranged*

  5. Liz – it is a pain when you can not go back and edit errors. 🙂

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