“Harrison Bergeron” Kurt Vonnegut

“Harrison Bergeron”
Kurt Vonnegut
 What
is Satire?
 Satire—any
kind of writing, speaking, or
art that ridicules some weakness in
individuals or society.
 Art
 Music
 Poetry/Prose
 Drama/TV
 Cartoons
 Create
a list of some elements of our
society (political or social) that may be or
have been satirized:
 Weird
Al Yankovic
 “You’re Pitiful” satirizes the song “You’re Beautiful” by
James Blunt
 George
 Saturday
Night Live
Hyperbole: A figure of speech that uses exaggeration
to emphasize strong feelings or to create a satiric effect
Understatement: The technique of creating emphasis
by saying less than what is actually or literally true
Sarcasm: a type of verbal irony often in the form of a
remark in which the literal meaning is complimentary
but the actual meaning is critical
Verbal Irony: words of praise which convey criticism
and words of criticism which convey praise
 Quickwrite:
Think about the pressure you or students in
your school might feel to be “the same”—to
act, think, or dress the same way others do.
Do you think the pressure to be the same
comes from outside forces or from personal
desires? Do you think being the same
makes most people happy, or would they
really prefer to act on their own? Jot down
your thoughts.
 In
your small groups, read “Harrison
Bergeron” and answer your group’s
questions. Be ready to present your
group’s findings to the class at the end of
the story.
What does the 1st paragraph tell you
about individuals in this society?
According to the information in the third
paragraph, how does the government
control people? What is the government
trying to prevent?
In this society, what makes a person
normal or abnormal?
Why do you think this society uses
sirens? Why does the siren go off at this
point in George’s head (pg 101)?
What does the description of Harrison’s
appearance in the preceding four
paragraphs tell you about him (pg. 103)?
What do you think Harrison means when
he says, “Now watch me become what I
can become”? What does this statement
tell you about his character?
What actions does Harrison take to defy
the authorities? What is your opinion of
his actions?
What does the ending reveal about what
happens to people in this society who act
on their own?
What details about Harrison’s
appearance and actions make him seem
like a superhuman character?
Do you think Harrison, like many other
superhuman characters, wants to save
people from evil, or do you think his
motives are not so pure?
What attitudes about equality is Vonnegut
mocking in the story? What statement is
he trying to make?
Do you think this story has something to
say to us about the role of technology in
our lives?
Satire: any kind of writing, speaking, or art that
ridicules some weakness in individuals or in society.
Activity: Working in small groups, choose something
in today’s society (some weakness) that could be
satirized. Once you have chosen a topic, think of a way
you could comment on this weakness to incite change.
Create a short form of satire to present to the class.
Your presentation may involve a short skit, commercial,
paragraph, poem, song, or cartoon/comic.
Presentation Format:
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