Friday, April 9, 2010

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut

Since we are having so much fun discussing short stories, I thought I'd let you know about one of my favorite short stories, Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse-Five (which, by the way, I will review soon for your pleasure)


It's about: "Harrison Bergeron" is a short narrative about a dystopian society in which the government has made everybody equal --  meaning, as dumb as the dumbest person, as weak as the weakest person, as ugly as the ugliest person -- by placing handicaps to prevent people from having an advantage over one another.  And then there is Harrison, who has more handicaps than anyone alive and continues to outgrow them.

I thought: Though the story is short and simple, it is incredibly intriguing to me (and I'm not big into sci fi).  I read it for a class in 7th grade, I think, and it has always stuck with me.  It's funny (Harrison's mom doesn't need ANY handicaps), it's thought-provoking, and it has images that get burned into your skull, in the pleasentest and most pensive way possible.  Oh yeah, and it's like a five minute read and can be read here, online

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf!

Reading Recommendations: Read it whenever you have a couple of spare minutes?  Seriously, it's so short.

Warnings: Nothing to be afraid of in this one.  Unless you're afraid of the government.  If that's the case, then be very, very afraid.

Favorite excerpts:  Here's the beginning:

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
Some things about living still weren't quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron's fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.