First off I’d just like to say that these 20th century authors are really starting to make me depressed. I’m seriously going to need a Prozac prescription before the semester ends. :D
In all seriousness, I have enjoyed our readings this week even though they’ve been particularly dark. “Harrison Bergeron” was no exception either. In this work, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., all people in the year 2081 are mandated by constitutional amendments to be completely equal to one another. If someone is different either mentally or physically they are forced to wear devices that “handicap” them and make them normal like everyone else. Then entire story is seen from the perspective of George and Hazel Bergeron. Their very intellectually and physically gifted son, Harrison, has been arrested for plotting to over throw the government. Eventually the “Handicapper General” kills Harrison, and his parents do not even realize what has happened.
I find this story very interesting because it points out the flaws in this plan for a perfect and equal society. In the government’s attempt to make everyone “the same” they really just accentuate their differences. All of these handicapping devices on people bring attention to the fact that the individuals in the story are more beautiful, stronger, or more intelligent than everyone else. For example, just before one of the ballerinas begins to read the bulletin about Harrison the narrator states “She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous”. This proves that even though the woman is forced to wear an ugly mask, everyone still knows she is beautiful.
It makes me think of what we are often taught in education about treating everyone the same or as equals. In reality we are not all equal and we are certainly not all the same. Our differences should be celebrated not pushed aside by some politically correct colorblind mentality.