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What are some of the laws or norms in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 that the society...

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pam43224 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 5, 2012 at 9:47 PM via web

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What are some of the laws or norms in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 that the society must follow? 

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 7, 2012 at 5:51 AM (Answer #1)

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There are many laws that people in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 must follow.

In the first section, "The Hearth and the Salamander," the first rule is introduced. People are not allowed to own (and therefore, read) books. If someone does, his or her home (along with the books) is burned to the ground. On page eight of my book, Guy Montag meets his new neighbor, Clarisse McClellan. She is an unusual seventeen year old who sees the world very differently than Montag. She is unique. She asks Guy about books:

"Do you ever read any of the books you burn?"

He laughed. "That's against the law!"

Another rule pertains to the speed with which people drive their cars, and is found on page nine. Clarisse says that people drive so fast that they never see things along the road: only blurs of colors. Green is the grass, pink is a rose garden, and brown is a cow. The drivers don't clearly recognize what they are passing for grass or a cow; they only know that the blur they see is a thing that they never clearly see. Clarisse tells Montag:

My uncle drove slowly on a highway once. He drove forty miles an hour and they jailed him for two days.

In fact, Clarisse's family gets in quite a bit of trouble. Starting at the bottom of page nine, she says her uncle was put in jail another time, arrested for walking:

My uncle was arrested another time—did I tell you?—for being a pedestrian. Oh, we're most peculiar!

On page 63, after Clarisse's death, Montag recalls other rules:

No front porches...people sat there sometimes at night, talking when they wanted to talk...thought about things, turned things over...[But] people talked too much. And they had time to think.

So society removed...

...the gardens...and look at the furniture. No rocking chairs...

Some rules are inferred. Cars driving at breakneck speeds infer that society does not wish people to notice their surroundings.  Why else would it be against the law to drive at forty miles an hour, or would being a pedestrian be a punishable offense? The burning of books discourages independent thought. The Seashells ("thimble radios") and "parlor walls" (TVs on multiple walls) isolate people. The seashell listening devices cut an individual off from the world at night—keeping dreams and ideas at bay. The parlor walls provide only the programming society wants people to see—with scripts used for controlled participation, so imagination and independent thought are blocked. The long billboards, which were extended over time so speeding drivers could read them, contain (we assume) only information acceptable to society.

Clarisse is able, through observation, to make a link (abhorred by society) with Montag—so much so that he believes that she can anticipate his movements, and that they are connected, which people in this time seem not to understand. Clarisse was...

...anticipating each flicker of an eyelid, each gesture of his hand, each flick of a finger, the moment before it began...He felt that if his eye itched, she might blink...

Bedrooms also isolate people, a...

...cold, marbled room of a mausoleum after the moon has set...the chamber a tomb world where no sound from the great city could penetrate.

Society wants zombies—shells of human beings—that go through the motions of life, asking no questions and having no thoughts of their own. There are rules publically acknowledged, and others that are inferred.

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