Harrison Bergeron

“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut
In this satire, set in 2081, the government has made everyone equal by forcing people with greater
talents, intelligence, or beauty to wear “handicaps”. Watching TV, George and Hazel see their son,
Harrison, who is handicapped to an extreme degree, disrupt a TV show. He removes his handicaps,
declares himself emperor, and dances with a ballerina. Then the audience watches the Handicapper
General kill the dancers for their defiance. Later, George’s handicap prevents him from recalling the
death of his son. Hazel has only a vague memory of having seen something sad on television.
1. Read the biography of Kurt Vonnegut on page 106.
2. Define satire (pg. 1143)3. Define theme (pg. 1145)4. Respond to questions 1-6 from page 107 in your notebook.
5. Respond to the following questions:
a. Identify what you think the theme of Harrison Bergeron” is? Provide examples for your
choice of theme.
b. Analyze how character traits are revealed through appearance, words, and actions.
Even if it were possible to remove all competition from society, would such an act be a
good thing? Explain your stance or position on this subject.
d. What would be the effects of such a drastic action on sports, business, and education?
e. What other aspects of life would be altered by the elimination of competition for the
sake of impartiality or equity?
6. Write a letter to Kurt Vonnegut and tell him what you think of his satire and present your ideas
about competition [Do this on a separate sheet of paper].