As generations progress, we see the change in our society. When reading the short story Harrison Bergeron we see the theme equality play out significantly. The idea of equality in America is based primarily on many different characteristics. Many of them which are mentioned in this short story. The author Kurt Vonnegut expands further on the topic equality. Equality in this story is making everyone have the same qualities and traits even if they were born with it. This means that anyone who appears to have higher traits than the rest of the world must wear handicaps that make them equal everyone else. Personalized handicaps were made for those who excel at a particular quality. An example given at the beginning of the story is about Harrison Bergeron’s father who has great intelligence. He must listen to sharp noises that interfere with his thinking. These are some of the many ways equality is demonstrated in this story.
Equality began many years ago but, the outcomes were negative. Vonnegut says, “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”. (Vonnegut, 195) The author mentions that it all goes back to the constitution and the amendments. Everyone wasn’t made to be the exact same which was why it was so difficult. People have flaws that others wish they had and vice versa. He first begins by giving an example of why equality exists in today’s world. America portrays equality as everyone is equal regardless of their differences. This is just society’s picture of the “ideal” human being. In this book, Vonnegut shows us the different ways people are categorized to be equal.
In a society of redundant equality, Harrison Bergeron is the only one fighting for his rights while trying his best to overthrow the government. Harrison is the only character in the story that represents uniqueness through his characteristics. Harrison is rather different from everyone else. He appears to be a “genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous”. (Vonnegut, 197) Harrison was given the most handicaps and you can tell he wasn’t average by the number of handicaps he was wearing. He was the only character in the story that fought for his rights by pulling apart every piece of handicap he had on. In this sense, Harrison represents the uniqueness of the average human in the story. In conclusion, the reader can see that Harrison was beyond great but society was bringing him down to become what they expected of him.
Kurt Vonnegut represents the extremes of both equality and inequality in society. Both extremes have disadvantages because while one takes away individuality and distinctiveness, the other takes away equality and fairness. This means that although equality comes with being treated the same and with justice, you’ll lose that sense of uniqueness. In a world full of equality, no human should be forced to change the qualities and talents they were born with. For example, in this story, Harrison represents uniqueness in many ways. That uniqueness disappears when he’s given different handicaps that make him equal with everyone else. Moreover, this short story demonstrates a significant amount of how people with disabilities get treated unfairly. We have little awareness of the kinds of things that they go through and the story allowed readers to develop an understanding of what people have to go through who can’t do what an average individual could do.
In conclusion, the idea of equality in the short story “Harrison Bergeron” is based primarily on many different characteristics. The author of this story, Kurt Vonnegut, explains different ways that equality is practiced. Many of them are considered injustices like meddling with someone’s intelligence. Equality is practiced in a way that people are reduced to the lowest common trait so everyone can be the same. I believe this comes with a lot of consequences considering how everyone is born with different traits and qualities. Differences in society amongst people shape our world better. All in all, author Kurt Vonnegut demonstrated equality and the idea of it in a good manner.