Why Is Clarisse Considered Anti Social

In "Fahrenheit 451" why is Clarisse McClellan considered "anti-social"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Part One, Montag asks his charismatic neighbor Clarisse McClellan why she isn't in school and she responds by saying,

"Oh, they don't miss me . . . I'm anti-social, they say. I don't mix. It's so strange" (Bradbury, 13).

Clarisse goes on to explain why she is labeled anti-social and the reader discovers that the definition of social in Bradbury's dystopian society has a completely opposite meaning. The majority of citizens in Bradbury's dystopian society consider having meaningful conversations, discussing the world, or talking about life to be examples of anti-social behavior. Clarisse is essentially labeled anti-social because she does not enjoy listening to a television teach lessons, playing violent sports with her classmates, or sitting in a classroom not talking about anything interesting. Ironically, Clarisse is a very social adolescent, who enjoys having meaningful conversations and discussing life with others. Overall, Clarisse McClellan is labeled anti-social because she does not participate in the meaningless, shallow activities that her other peers enjoy and would rather have enlightening conversations about life.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Teen-aged Clarisse is considered anti-social, because, like the rest of her family, she enjoys being out in nature, talking walks, and having conversations rather than watching televised wall screens all the time. She is also a gentle, ethereal person, who dislikes the increasing violence and alienation of the teenagers of her generation. Ironically, these are all activities and qualities, especially talking to people and not behaving violently, which are considered healthy and social in our own society.

She awakens latent discontents in Montag when she actually talks to him and takes an interest in who he is and what he has to say. He begins to think about how he is living his life and whether he is satisfied with it. This kind of independent thinking is precisely what the government wants to discourage. It fears too much thought will lead to social instability, which is why people like Clarisse are considered anti-social nuisances by people like Beatty.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Clarisse is considered anti-social because she refuses to participate in the activates that the government deems as acceptable activities for people in the society of “Fahrenheit 451”.  She enjoys doing thinks like wondering, thinking, looking around and taking time to smell the flowers and be aware of her surroundings; because of this, she is actually happy.  The other people of her society are brainwashed to enjoy watching television, looking at picture books instead of reading, and participating in team sports that frown upon individuality.  Because Clarisse enjoys the activities that she does, she remains happy until the day that she dies (or disappears) while the others lifeless people of her society drown themselves in happy pills and can not even think for themselves. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Her society considers being social fitting in; going to her classes and sitting there absorbing everything.  Being social means enjoying sitting there and not asking questions, then going to the parks to "bully people around, break windowpanes...wreck cars...race on the streets...shouting or dancing around like wild or beating up one another."  That is what socializing is to kids her age.  To her however, it is talking to people, being around them, getting to know them, and asking questions about the world to start good discussions.  So, because she doesn't behave the way that all of the other teenagers behave, she is considered anti-social.  If you think of anyone at your school who is a bit different, and who doesn't behave like most of the kids do, they tend to get labelled with such phrases as "anti-social", "freak," "weirdo," and other such negative terms.  Being anti-social to the majority just means that you aren't behaving like they are behaving.  And, Clarisse doesn't.  She actually enjoys thinking, and not going around smashing things up and never really talking to the people you are doing the smashing with.  So, that is why she is considered anti-social; she isn't social in the way that everyone else is.  I hope that helps!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial