This short story was originally published in Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine in 1961.
everyone was equal, nobody was better than anyone else.
this was due to the 211,212,213rd Amendments of the Constitution.
Characters: George, Hazel, Harrison, Diana Moon Glampers, Emperor, and Empress, a ballerina.
The Handicapper General and a team of agents ensure that the laws of equality are enforced.
George Bergeron was the father of Harrison, his intelligence was way above normal so he had a little handicapped radio in his ear. “Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer,”He wears bags of birdshot, and has a little radio in his ear. George does not remove his birdshot. He drinks beer, while hazel cries.
Hazel Bergeron, mother of Harrison. All she thought about was short bursts of thoughts, and she forgets things easily.“If I was Diana Moon Glampers, I’d have chimes on Sunday-just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion.” She has average intelligence, she is idiotic. She tears up. “Who knows better than I do what normal is?” Society will fall apart she says.
Harrison Bergeron is a 14-year-old boy, 7 feet tall, who went to jail, for attempting to overthrow the government, he is an athlete and a complete genius, and is considered an extremely dangerous boy who is under-handicapped. He is a walking junkyard, carries 300 pounds. He wears a red ball nose, shaved eyebrows and black caps. He thinks he is emperor.
Diana Moon Glamperswas the handicapped general she was in charge of giving people there handicaps. She loaded a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun and fired twice at the Emperor and the Empress.”It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.”
The ballerina, was the dancer who announced that Harrison had broken out of jail, and that he is an extremely dangerous young boy who needs to be hunted down.“Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen,” she said in a grackle squawk, “has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous.”
Luminous-Emitting light, especially emitting self-generated light.”Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody.”
Vigilance-the fact, quality, or condition of being vigilant. “All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.”
Ball peen hammer-also known as a machinist’s hammer, is a type of peening hammer used in metalworking.“Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer,”
Bird shot- is little lead balls used for killing birds, and little rodents.”They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot.”
Calibrated-to plan or devise something carefully so as to have aprecise use, application, appeal, etc. “The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches.”
Vague-not clearly or explicitly stated or expressed. “George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. ”
Plot- The first part of the story is in Hazel and George’s living room when they are watching a television broadcast of a dance. Everyone is wearing the handicaps, even the dancers and it is clear that the strongest and most beautiful have the most handicaps. During the broadcast an announcement is made that Harrison Bergeron escaped from jail and is an under handicapped athlete who is very intelligent, and that you shouldn’t make contact with him. After that announcement Harrison appears on the tv and claims that he is the emperor and that he will pick his emperess. He then started to release everyone from their handicaps. They all began to dance together. Then the Handicapper General and her HG-men came on stage and shot Harrison and the ballerina, they were dead before the skin of there bodies hit the floor. The story closes with Hazel and George in the living room. George asks Hazel why she has tears in her eyes but she replies, “I forget,” she said. “Something real sad on television”. The climax of this story is when Harrison kisses the roof.
The setting– This short story takes place in the year 2081, everyone’s finally equal. The story takes place in the Harrison families living room.
The theme– The theme in this story is all about equality. The main goal for this story is to get everyone in Vonnegut’s world equal, without anyone like Harrison trying to overthrow this whole plan, because with Harrison he tried changing the world back to everyone being themselves, there true identities. Therefore the government had to take action and find Harrison, and eventually wipe his face off of Vonnegut’s world so that equality can become reality.
The conflict-Harrison was trying to overthrow the government because the government was making all people wear handicaps so that everyone could be equal, to cause less fighting over the human race. Is society against the tyrannical government. Which is to intent upon controlling society in a dictatorship style of leadership.
Simile – “A buzzer sounded in George’s head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.”
“Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.”
Connect to cultural milieu-
If Harrison had a favorite t.v show character i think it would be Stewie Griffin because he is exactly like Harrison, all he wants to do is over throw the government and take over the world.
Vonnegut’s world is much like the Aztec civilization where there is one ruler, and an army, or in the story its the handicapper general and her HG-men.
In the basketball world just like this story there are handicaps to make the game as fair as possible, like the 24 second shot-clock enables teams that are down to have a chance, instead of the opposing team holding onto the ball.
In golf depending on your average score per game, you get to tee off from different spots, and if your a women you get to tee off from a closer position than the men do.
Salary caps in the big league are a handicap, whether your the more talented player you will get more money or if you are less talented player your salary is lower. And depending on your teams salary you will get the better players or the less talented ones.
If religion is just all about listening to the chimes, than why do people go to church every sunday? Do we actually learn a lesson, or on the way home do we leave the poor homeless men suffer in the back alleys?
The quality of life in Vonnegut’s world is missing one very important philosophical reason, and thats there own freedom. Their freedom in this story is taken away because of the handicaps put on every human being so that they can be equal.