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Harrison Bergeron

Harrison Bergeron

by Kurt Vonnegut

Rules and Order Theme

We're all for rules, to a point. The Bill of Rights is pretty darn spiffy, and we're definitely behind the 14th and 19th amendments. But 213 amendments to the Constitution? Yeah, that might be just a smidge too many. In Vonnegut's 2081, people have been beaten down by rules. They're literally wearing the laws in weighted sacks around their neck, and it makes them tired and useless, too exhausted to even imagine how life might be different. "Harrison Bergeron" shows us that when rules rule out any hopes and dreams, they've definitely gone too far.

Questions About Rules and Order

  1. What are the benefits of the rules of the Handicapper General? What are their drawbacks? What do you think about the way the H-G men enforce their rules?
  2. All the rules are in place so that people can be "equal." Do the rules succeed? Do you see any way that people can be made equal? Does it involve different rules or no rules at all? Are people in "Harrison Bergeron" really equal?
  3. George Bergeron believes that society needs rules to function. But does society actually function in the story? Do you agree? If so, is there such a thing as too many rules? If not, what is the alternative?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Poor Hazel Bergeron. If she were Handicapper General, she wouldn't abolish the rules. She would just change them. Talk about brainwashed.

In a world where everyone is equal, the Handicapper General is decidedly not equal. She's above everyone else.

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