Fahrenheit 451 Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

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Why is Clarisse's uncle arrested in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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During Montag's first conversation with Clarisse, Montag asks her what is going on in her home that the lights have to be turned on. Clarisse responds by telling Montag that her mother, father, and uncle are sitting together having a conversation, which is considered odd behavior in Bradbury's dystopian society. Clarisse then explains to Montag that her uncle was arrested before for being a pedestrian. In Bradbury's dystopian society, intellectual pursuits are discouraged, and novels are considered illegal. Anyone possessing or distributing literature is arrested, and their books are destroyed by fire. Being a pedestrian is synonymous with appreciating nature, science, independence, and thinking deeply. These activities are virtually unheard of in Bradbury's dystopian society, where citizens are typically watching their parlour walls or participating in violent games. The government fears intellectuals and does not want to compete with critics, which is why being a pedestrian is suspicious and can lead to a citizen's arrest.

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Madeleine Wells eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Clarisse's uncle is arrested for driving too slowly on the highway. He was once caught driving at forty miles an hour; as a result, he was jailed for two days.

Clarisse tells Montag no one really notices the details in life, as no one is allowed to slow down long enough to observe anything. Basically, Clarisse and Montag live in a totalitarian world, where citizens aren't allowed individual, autonomous thoughts that aren't sanctioned by the government. To keep its citizens docile and subservient, the government creates draconian and arbitrary laws that permeate every aspect of life. Failure to comply is met with stringent punishment.

Clarisse maintains that people have to drive so fast that they can't make out what they're seeing. They must imagine a green blur stands in for grass, a pink blur stands in for a rose-garden, a white blur stands in for a house, and a brown blur designates a cow.

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