Study Guide

Harrison Bergeron Appearances

By Kurt Vonnegut


What's the first thing you notice when you first meet someone? Height? Eyes? Smile? Something below the chin? Chances are it's something visual. The world is a virtual smorgasbord of visual delights from beautiful people to sunsets to sleek electronics. Not in "Harrison Bergeron," however. As part of their equality project, the government is regulating beauty as well. We can imagine everyone's houses and living rooms looking exactly the same too. What's smart is that the government plays with this visual homogenization of society by making Harrison Bergeron look so radically different. In a dull, gray world, a seven-foot-tall clown wearing shards of scrap metal stands out like a palm tree in a snowstorm. No wonder we're paying attention.

Questions About Appearances

  1. If Harrison weren't seven feet of solid handsomeness (for a fourteen-year-old), would he be compelled to rebel against the government?
  2. The beautiful women of 2081 have to wear masks so as not to make other women feel self-conscious. Does beauty make people feel bad about themselves? Or does envy just mean you need to get over yourself?
  3. What is the significance of Hazel Bergeron looking like Diana Moon Glampers?
  4. How do you think Diana Moon Glampers defines the standards of beauty she uses to require some women to wear masks?

Chew on This

Average-looking people wouldn't stand against the government because that means all the pretty people would get to take off their masks.

Not everything you see on TV is true. It's possible that Harrison's television appearance was staged.

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