“Her face was slender and milk-white, and in it was a kind of gentle hunger that touched over everything with tireless curiosity. It was a look, almost, of pale surprise; the dark eyes were so fixed to the world that no move escaped them. Her dress was white and it whispered. […] He [Montag] saw himself in her eyes, suspended in two shining drops of bright water, himself dark and tiny, in fine detail, the lines about his mouth, everything there, as if her eyes were two miraculous bits of violet amber that might capture and hold hi intact. Her face, turned to him now, was fragile milk crystal with a soft and constant light in it. It was not the hysterical light of electricity but […] the strangely comfortable and rare and gently flattering light of the candle.”
Here I put together two passages of the book where Clarisse McClellan is described. The author insists a lot in that “whiteness” she has. I have her image in my head, I have Montag’s image too. The description is very rich.
Clarisse is white-skinned and has a white dress; so I feel as if she was all white. At the first reading of this part I got the image and I am sure that what Bradbury wants to show us is the purity this girl has. She might be insane, but in some way she shows us that she is very intelligent and pure. She is taking care of every detail, she watches everything that is so normal, so common for everybody, and she finds something new, different, that most of the people don’t. Clarisse knows when the grass has dew, or she sees a man in the moon shadows!
The being “insane” in this story, I think that involves the being “different” of the rest. She is different, but in a pretty much better way. She is taking care of the details, she “thinks too much”, as Montag says in the book. Everybody in that city where the book takes place live as if they were being chased. They drive very fast and they don’t take time to see the landscape, to see the billboards, to see life. I think that when the girl tells the story of her uncle, who was in jail for driving too slow in the highway, it is like a symbol in the book. Everybody in that town lives life quickly, without paying attention to what surrounds them. Everybody lives like that except Clarisse; everybody drives fast except her uncle. She is “insane” because she is “different”, but actually I think she is the one who is living as life should be lived: enjoying every moment, every detail, everything.
I can talk a lot about this girl, because I feel a bit identified with her in the fact that I tend to analyse a lot those peculiar things. I can find something new in that object I see everyday and I am so used to it. I love just watching the mountains, watching the grass in my garden, although it’s the landscape I have everyday. And I can’t tell you how I enjoy the moon and the stars! I also tend to do this: “I like to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay up all night, walking, and watch the sun rise.” (Fragment of the book). I’ve spent some nights just thinking, reading, writing, and then watching the sunrise. I smell different odors; I find all the details in people, in things.
Anyway, I told you about my identifying aspect with Clarisse although I didn’t want to get out of what I really wanted to say.
What Bradbury points out is that purity the girl has. He doesn’t say that, but with all the images we have, that is my personal perception of the girl. I think that’s what he wants to show. Apart from the “physical whiteness”, she is pure inside. She is not like everybody in her town, she hasn’t been influenced by all these people that call her “insane” just because she enjoys life. All this “beauty” of her soul is shown where he says that she has a constant “comfortable rare and gently” light in her face. That shows us purity too, or at least that’s what I get from it. That image also tells me that she is happy. This description gives me the impression that it is really comfortable to be with her, it’s interesting to talk to her. She is rare, but in a good way.
I chose these two passages because in both there was description of the girl, and also because there is a comparison. Clarisse is all white, pure, and then it says that Montag sees himself “dark and tiny”, reflected in her eyes. It’s the only image we have of him in these passages; it is small, but it has a lot of meaning. While Montag is contemplating all this purity and brightness, he sees himself as all the opposite of it. White means purity and black, or dark, means impurity, mystery, death, sadness, the concept of “nada” of Ernest Hemingway.
Maybe the fireman sees himself like that because he has very low self esteem, and we read what he is looking. But maybe he is just like that and the narrator is telling what he thinks, not what Montag might be thinking. Anyway, the fact is that there is a comparison between Clarisse and Montag, and they are the opposite in what refers to her white and shiny image, and his “dark and tiny” silhouette.
I said that I feel identified with Clarisse… I do! But in what she does and the way she analyses everything, every detail, every object. But not in the sense of purity, white dress and white skin. =P
I really got inspired, and the book is great!!