What does Clarisse say about front porches? Does our society have that mentality?

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asorrell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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Clarisse says that there used to be front porches and people would sit on their porches and just talk, or just sat to think.  The excuse for getting rid of porches is that the architects said they didn't like the way they looked, but Clarisse says that her uncle says that the real reason is that they didn't want people sitting and talking because it was "the wrong kind of social life."  She says they also got rid of gardens and rocking chairs. 

As far as our society I guess I think of texting and how it has eliminated many verbal conversations for many people.  Many people don't have deep conversations with people, they just text a quick message.  For example, I once read an essay that one of my students wrote and she talked about how her boyfriend and her become a couple through a text.  What happened to asking that question face-to-face?

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Ray Bradbury's depiction of a futuristic, dystopian society in which books, with the knowledge they contain, are outlawed because of the threat they pose to social stability, the character of Clarisse represents the innocent but inquisitive perspective, untainted by maturity and the responsibilities of adulthood.  As Professor Faber and Captain Beatty point out to Montag, albeit from vastly different perspectives, knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  The conveyance of information unapproved or unsanctioned by the government has been made illegal or, at a minimum, more difficult to conclude.  It is in this context that, late in Part I of Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury has his protagonist, Montag, reflect back on a conversation with Clarisse.  It was in that conversation that the subject of front porches came up, about which the teenage girl told Montag the following:

"My uncle says there used to be front porches. And people sat there sometimes at night, talking when they wanted to talk, rocking, and not talking when they didn't want to talk. Sometimes they just sat there and thought about things, turned things over. My uncle says the architects got rid of the front porches because they didn't look well. But my uncle says that was merely rationalizing it; the real reason, hidden underneath, might be they didn't want people sitting like that, doing nothing, rocking, talking; that was the wrong kind of social life. People talked too much. And they had time to think. So they ran off with the porches."

Just as books threaten regime stability because of the knowledge they contain, routine conversation between citizens is considered potentially subversive because of the thoughts and plans that could coalesce as a result of such conversations.  If eliminating front porches made it less likely for people to sit around and talk, they were less likely to conspire or to question authority.


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