Kurt Vonnegut's Short Stories

Harrison Bergeron

1. Looking at the first few paragraphs of the story, describe Vonnegut’s America—its government, society, and people. How has it changed from the present day?

2. Why do you think it adopted its practices of making everyone equal in brains, beauty, and brawn?

3. Is it a good thing for people to believe that no one is better than anyone else? Would it be a good thing if, in fact, no person were better than any other person? Why or why not?

4. Are there positive aspects of this society?

5. What is lacking? 6. Why exactly do you like or dislike it?
7. Describe Harrison Bergeron. Is he an example of human excellence? Does he represent the American dream to “be all you can be”?
8. Do you cheer for his success, and if so, why? What do you admire about Harrison? Are there aspects of his behavior that concern you?
9. With whom do you think Vonnegut sympathizes in the story? Does he present Harrison as a hero, or is the story heroless? Why?
10. What is being satirized in this story? Why do you think Vonnegut wrote it? Satire is a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc. : humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc.
11. Is Vonnegut’s story finally a cautionary tale about the importance of freedom? Of individuality? Of excellence? Or is he aiming at something else?
12. What is the relation between the sort of equality attained in the story and the sort of equality that you regard as most important? How are they similar or different?
Note: You don't have to answer all of it, just some questions if you know them.
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1) It is the year 2081, and all people have been made 'equal' through the use of physical and mental handicaps. The United States Constitution mandates this equality in the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments, and the law is enforced by Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General.

Unlike the America we live in today...... differences are no longer embraced. Everyone has to be the same, no one is allowed to excel. Individuality is a no-no..... being better than someone else (more talented, intelligent, gifted in a specific area) is a resaon for handicapping.

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3. Is it a good thing for people to believe that no one is better than anyone else? Would it be a good thing if, in fact, no person were better than any other person? Why or why not?