He 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 him intact.
When Montag first meets Clarisse, he seems startled to see himself reflected in her eyes. Unlike the other people around him who are incredibly self-centered, Clarisse sees Montag for who he really is, as “just a man” instead of a fireman to be feared. Clarisse’s mirror-like quality allows him to see himself more clearly and better understand himself as well.
How like a mirror, too, her face. Impossible; for how many people did you know that refracted your own light to you? People were more often—he searched for a simile, found one in his work—torches, blazing away until they whiffed out. How rarely did other people’s faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought?
Here, as Montag reflects on his meeting and conversation with Clarisse, he observes how strange her reflective quality is. Since Clarisse sees people for who they truly are, not who she wants or needs them to be, Clarisse acts like a mirror, a mirror that allows people to see their inner truth. It is at this moment, after looking into the mirror that Clarisse represents, that Montag realizes the depths of his own unhappiness.
Had he ever seen a fireman that didn’t have black hair, black brows, a fiery face, and a blue-steel shaved but unshaved look? These men were all mirror images of himself!
Soon after Clarisse disappears, Montag is playing cards with the other firemen and realizes how similar they all look. Despite the fact that he has worked as a fireman for ten years, he never noticed how they all look the same until now. It’s as if he’s suddenly looking into a number of mirrors and what he “sees” startles him. Such a moment highlights the fact that everyone in Montag’s world is so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t even recognize their own “reflection” and reality, even when they are practically looking in a mirror.
Montag, falling flat, going down, saw or felt, or imagined he saw or felt the walls go dark in Millie’s face, heard her screaming, because in the millionth part of time left, she saw her own face reflected there, in a mirror instead of a crystal ball, and it was such a wildly empty face, all by itself in the room, touching nothing, starved and eating of itself, that at last she recognized it as her own[.]
As the city is being bombed, Montag’s thoughts turn to Mildred dying in a hotel room. He imagines that facing her own death will function like a mirror and make her see her true self, undistorted, for the first time in her life. She will see how empty and vain her life has been with no time left to do anything about it. Montag, unlike Mildred, has learned the importance of self-reflection and self-understanding before it is too late.
[“]Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.”
As Granger explains how they will move forward, he says the first order of business is looking into mirrors for a year. He believes that by reflecting on themselves and what went wrong with humanity—both literally and metaphorically—they can learn from their mistakes. Granger believes that in this way, they will be able to “dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up.”