Harrison Bergeron

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Resource Pack for: Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1961)

Created by Pip Paulin

Context

What would the world look like if everyone was equal? What does it mean to abolish ‘inequality’?

Harrison Bergeron is a dystopian science-fiction short story first published in 1961 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and explores a society in the future where a government forcibly handicaps its people to only be as strong as their weakest member. Radio-transmitters are attached to ears, sight altering goggles for the eyes and television channels are completely controlled by the government. There is only one who refuses these regulations, and he pays the ultimate price.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) was an American writer who frequently used his work as social satire. In the case of Harrison Bergeron, the story opens with:

“The year was 2081 and everyone was finally equal…All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th and 213th amendments to the constitution.”

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