Study Guide

Harrison Bergeron Summary

By Kurt Vonnegut

Harrison Bergeron Summary

It's the year 2081, and George and Hazel Bergeron have a son, Harrison. Unfortunately for them, the government took him away when he was fourteen years old. See, someone once decided that George Bergeron is of above-average intelligence, so he's had a radio implanted in his ear. Piercing sirens, crashes, and booms go off periodically to hinder his thought process. (His wife, Hazel, on the other hand, is spectacularly average. No handicaps on her.)

Anyway, one night in 2018, the Bergerons are sitting in front of the TV watching ballet—bad ballet, with ballerinas wearing masks to hide their beauty and weights to hinder their grace and strength. This sounds like a bad episode of Minute to Win It, and no one wants to see that.

The Ballet is interrupted when one of the ballerinas has an urgent government news announcement to make. Harrison Bergeron has escaped! An escaped convict is just what any boring ballet, opera, or interpretive dance routine needs to liven things up a bit, and boy does it get lively when Harrison himself rips off the door to the stage and storms on screen.

He declares himself Emperor and takes one of the ballerinas as his Empress. Just what this society needs to pull it from its homogenized doldrums: a crazed monarchy.

Anyway, the two of them dance, fly through the air, kiss the ceiling, then kiss each other. There's a whole lot of kissing. But the Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers, doesn't seem to care much for kissing (in addition to discouraging strength, intelligence, and beauty), since she shoots them both dead with a shotgun.

The Bergerons' television blows out and goes dark. Must have been a faulty bulb—no way it was government intervention, right? But then it turns out that George had gone to get a beer, so it appears he missed the whole thing. Hazel cries, but soon can't remember why. Life quickly returns to normal.

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