"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Harrison Bergeron Agenda and Goals Agenda Author Study Pre-Reading Theme Notes Thesis Notes Read and Annotate Harrison Bergeron Discussion Begin Literary Analysis essay By the end of this reading and lesson we hope to: appreciate individual differences, seek opportunities for self-fulfillment, evaluate the government's responsibility in providing equal opportunities Understand how to analyze THEME Be able to write a cohesive, meaningful introduction paragraph Author Interview-Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Author Background http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7o2K7wc9r-U What do you get if you cross satire, dark humor, science fiction, and pessimism? You get Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., a man who wrote about tragically horrible moments but made them so funny that he became one of the twentieth century’s foremost American authors. Certainly Vonnegut was allowed to write about tragedy: his mother committed suicide on Mother’s Day while he was home on leave during WWII; he was one of only seven American POW survivors during the firebombing of Dresden; his sister, Alice, died of cancer just days after her husband died in a train accident; and Vonnegut himself attempted suicide on at least one occasion. He managed, however, to blend his bleak view of the world with a dry, sharp sense of humor that continues to entertain and engage reading audiences today. Pre- Reading Individual Identity Make a list of your individual strengths and weaknesses. How does the combination of strengths and weaknesses contribute your their unique and valuable identity. How does this individuality help you connect and contribute to your community. THEME The theme of a piece of fiction is its controlling idea or central insight—the unifying generalization about life stated or implied by the story. To derive the theme of a story, determine what its central purpose is: what view of life it supports or what insight into life it reveals. The Six Principles or Rules for Stating the Theme include: 1. Theme should be expressible in the form of a statement with a subject and a predicate. 2. The theme should be stated as a generalization about life. 3. Be careful not to make the generalization larger than is justified by the story. Forego absolutes: instead of everyone, all, always, use terms like some, sometimes, etc. Theme Cont… 4. Theme is the central and unifying concept of a story. Therefore (a) it accounts for all the major details of the story, (b) is not contradicted any detail of the story, and (c) cannot rely upon supposed facts—facts not actually stated or clearly implied by the story. 5. There is no one way of stating the theme of the story. Every student states it differently. 6. Avoid any statement that reduces the theme to some familiar saying or cliché that we have heard all our lives, such as “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Although such a statement may express the theme accurately, too often it is simply a lazy shortcut. Sample Themes This story addresses: individuality versus conformity self-determination versus forced equality governmental authority versus abuse of power Thesis Statements Read and annotate the handout on thesis statements As you read think about ways you can create a meaningful thesis statement Focused Reading As you read Harrison Bergeron: Using annotation skills, write ideas and thoughts in your journal. Question Predict Evaluate Look for clues to support possible themes Reading-Processing your ideas Developing Ideas and Class Discussion Use the following questions as springboards to solutions. Answer these questions in your workbook after you finish your reading: How do you think this society evolved? What conditions could have facilitated such events? What similar conditions exist in our society? Why do you think the citizens acquiesce to the decisions of the Handicapper General? Would you? Why/Why not? What responsibility does a government have in providing equality for its citizens? Do " handicaps" really make people equal? Is equality really possible? Why do we think it is such a lofty goal? The handicaps destroy the individuality of those forced to wear them. Can this be viewed as a good thing? How/When can individuality and self-fulfillment become destructive forces? " Fitting in" is sometimes viewed as a necessity. How can it become a handicap? What can be done to prevent it from becoming one? Harrison is killed. Is individuality worth dying for? Is fitting in? Explain. Discussion leads to new ideas! Think-Write-Share As a group discuss each of the questions you have answered Add your partners ideas to your notes Be ready to share your ideas with the class (I will be randomly selecting willing and nonwilling volunteers) NO HANDS UP Homework Write Analytical essay Must follow all LHS writing requirements…or I will be very, very sad when I have to hand it back with a “0”. Here is the sad face I will have Please so not make me sad! You will turn in your essay at the beginning of the next class meeting. Please do not ask to print in class or turn in late. You essay will not be accepted. Just For Fun Kurt Vonnegut - Eight rules for Writing Fiction 1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. 2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. 3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. 4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action. 5. Start as close to the end as possible. 6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of. 7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. 8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages Essay Prompt Kurt Vonnegut's short story “Harrison Bergeron” entices readers to question the society around them. In well written essay analyze a theme Vonnegut explores and how this theme connects to our own society.