Harrison Bergeron (SS-2)

This week, during some down time while the students were testing, I read "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut.  Vonnegut and I have an estranged relationship.  I read him, actually I devoured him in my early twenties.  But then, as I find with most authors, if read serially, they're novels run together.

Harrison Bergeron sounds like Vonnegut.  It's a short dystopian and opens in the 2081.  Everyone is equal, not only in God's eyes, but amongst their peers.  We are first introduced to George and Hazel.  George is a brilliant man, so to equalize him, he has an ear bud placed in his ear that makes horrendously loud and obnoxious noises every thirty seconds.  This prevents George from every thoroughly examining a deep thought.  Hazel, on the other hand, is quite the simpleton and does not need an ear bud.  She has been crying but has forgotten why.

Their conversations are never really interesting and there even seems to be a lack of emotion between them.  Sure I can believe them that they care for each other, but in my head, I hear the conversation as flat, mundane, dry.

The titled character is their son, Harrison Bergeron, and he has been taken away because he doesn't want to live in the world as it is.  He is being detained while George and Hazel are at home watching a dance performance on the tele, unable to truly grasp what has happened.

This is a quick read and poses decent questions about equality and quality of life.  The tale is even heroic without being contrived.  However, I want to say that the story is mediocre and predictable. BUT I am reluctantly for two simple reasons (1) I cannot separate the time period in which Vonnegut wrote this story - 1961 and (2) dude, I kinda feel like there are so many dystopian fics out there that it's hard to be impressive.  As you can see both reasons sorta come together.  There probably were not that many dysfic written in the early 60's as there are now.

You can read Harrison Bergeron online here.


  1. I haven't read Vonnegut since high school and have never been big on dystopian stuff, but this sounds kind of interesting... maybe one of the originals? I'll bookmark this to read later. Thanks for the link.

  2. I read this story for the first time last year. It was actually one of my favorites from the Welcome to the Monkey House collection. Although dystopian, it could also be considered satire I think - kind of taking the 'homogenization" of everything &everybody that we see occurring today and taking it to the next level.



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