Listening to Clarisse

A Blog for Humans

“Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?”

“Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.”

I’ve pulled this conversation from Ray Bradbury’s magnificent Fahrenheit 451. The speakers are the protagonist, Guy Montag, and a young woman he meets, Clarisse Maclellan.

Clarisse Maclellan exists in a world of her own. She listens, and, through her charm, she forces the reader to listen. She is utterly wholesome and pure. She’s too perfect. Clarisse Maclellan can’t possibly be real. Or can she?

It’s rare to meet someone like Clarisse. And frankly, when I do, it scares me. Normally, every human interaction holds an unseen message: hidden motives, unclear subtexts, or suppressed sexual desire. When someone is kind or vulnerable with me, I always assume they have an ulterior motive. I fear they want something from me…

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