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Harrison Bergeron

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  9,152 Ratings  ·  511 Reviews
It is the year 2081. Because of Amendments 211, 212, and 213 to the Constitution, every American is fully equal, meaning that no one is stupider, uglier, weaker, or slower than anyone else. The Handicapper General and a team of agents ensure that the laws of equality are enforced.

One April, fourteen-year-old Harrison Bergeron is taken away from his parents, George and Haze
ebook, 9 pages
Published by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (first published January 1st 1961)
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Gale A Response to A Question on Goodreads’ Forum

Why did his parents have muted responses to his televised, horrific murder?

The father’s once brilliant…more
A Response to A Question on Goodreads’ Forum

Why did his parents have muted responses to his televised, horrific murder?

The father’s once brilliant mind was all but destroyed by intermittent jarring sounds which the Government mandated. He is unable to concentrate on thoughts or even images (like the confusion inside the brain of someone with Hyperactivity). He is also physically weighted down by heavy bags to handicap his athletic skill and general body motion.
Understandably he sleeps poorly if at all. Depression and pain are his daily fare. It is not that he does not care about his son’s fate; he is just driven for temporary surcease by cold beer. A victim of extreme Governmental tampering (Big Brother Sees and Manipulates All) Mr. Bergeron was forced to submit to the brain handicap—like the people of Earth who had to be Capped in order to be controlled by the alien Tripods.

The boy’s mother is proud of her ordinariness, in a world where no one is allowed to be superior or prettier or more talented then anyone else. In fact she is Proud of the fact that no one understands “Normal” better than she. She also loves her iconoclastic son, but points out that Society would indeed be messed up if certain members “cheated on the laws.” She totally accepts the equalizing effect of the laws which repudiate the right or value of individuality among humans. Besides she can not retain mental images long and weeps easily. She can’t complain of their son’s murder when she has already forgotten what she viewed—only that it was "something sad." As in THE LATHE OF HEAVEN even racial tension has vanished since the various races have been blended into one; all people are an ashy gray. Beer and Tears help his parents forget the horrors they just saw on TV—which might be a blessing.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins1984 by George OrwellThe Giver by Lois LowryDivergent by Veronica RothBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Best Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
211th out of 2,653 books — 20,814 voters
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutCat's Cradle by Kurt VonnegutBreakfast of Champions by Kurt VonnegutThe Sirens of Titan by Kurt VonnegutMother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut's Best
19th out of 38 books — 533 voters

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Community Reviews

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Feb 27, 2016 Seemita rated it really liked it
A rather stinging, unsettling account of a likely future where absolute equality doesn’t naturally translate into celebrations until the constructs establishing it, are also ensured to be without prejudice.

Ouch, did I say too much? Rejoice in this much-in-love couple from that land then.

Aug 23, 2011 Flannery rated it really liked it
This short story takes about 5 minutes to read and it is absolutely worth it. It is set in a society where, in an effort to make everyone equal, anyone who is above average in any respect is given mechanisms or hindrances by the government to suppress whatever it is they can do. If they are mentally gifted, the Handicapper General (It was written in 1961) gives them an earpiece which plays annoying noises when they are thinking. If a person is attractive, they are forced to wear masks.

The story
Feb 23, 2016 Srividya rated it really liked it
Eerily brilliant short story.

The story is about an imaginary world, where everyone is forced to be equal, in every conceivable way, often through the use of handicaps. Handicaps are ways by which excellence is brought down to mediocrity, and voilà, people are equal.

Stories like this truly scare me, not merely because of the unimaginable horrors it portrays but mostly because in a world that is so full of competition, what if people were to get tired of it and deem mediocrity to be the rule of l
Apr 03, 2012 Prashant rated it liked it
Shelves: e-book
Damn you Vonnegut!!

All these years you let me think that 1984 is one of it's kind.
For god knows how long have I felt awed by the world Orwell imagined 1984 to be.

And here comes a SOB who writes stories which take hardly 5 minutes to read and leaves the reader scarred for life. In spite of the dominance of Orwell and presence of Fahrenheit 451 on the similar lines, Vonnegut is able to deliver the message safely and eloquently.

The story is set in the future when 'Equality' is the norm and 'Comp
Oct 27, 2015 Lyn rated it really liked it
Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut is a short fiction dystopian vision that leaves the reader thinking long after the short prose is over.

One of the great things about Vonnegut’s short fiction is that he is able to tightly wind a story and never meanders off on tangent (even though those wanderings are often entertaining in his novels). Bergereon is the alpha male amidst a society of forced mediocrity.

Best line in the story, when asked if he would be a good whatever, the answer, “as good as an
Jan 22, 2016 Sofia rated it really liked it


I keep thinking of all the handicaps we are saddled with by society. The worse, the kicking yourself in the ass bit, is that most of the handicaps are there by our own choice, albeit unconciously. Society is devious like that.
In the year 2081, due to the 211th, 212th and 213th Amendments, people are equal (literally). If one person is "above" others then he or she gets assigned some kind of "handicap" which makes smarter people less smart, prettier people less pretty and athletic people weaker. The objective is to erase all traces of individuality.
Harrison Bergeron is not only smarter that most, but he's also very strong and he gets an abundance of handicaps.

The rest of Harrison's appearance was Hallo
Jul 19, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
Recommended to Erin by: StumbleUpon
Shelves: dark, dystopia
A (hopefully) short review for a short story...

I ran into this on StumbleUpon, so I figured I might as well review it. This is a short story, a dystopian world with the same ultimate goal as in the Uglies series. However, this one succeeded in frightening me in a way that Uglies never did.

This is a society where equality is everything. No one is allowed to excel in any area, and the government enforces this strictly-- beautiful people must wear grotesque masks, athletic people carry heavy loads
Jun 05, 2015 Simeon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apocalypse
There are two paths to equality: elevating some people, and breaking others. Actually, ignoring for a moment the second option (which is the theme of Vonnegut's story), the first is pretty divisive all by itself. All our modern political ideologies seem concerned with it, after all - the extent to which a society, a government, should be responsible for its people, and whether helping each other actually infringes on some inalienable right of not having to help each other.

The reality is that al
Liz BooksandStuff
Feb 09, 2016 Liz BooksandStuff rated it really liked it
The perfect introduction to Vonnegut is here. This is a story about absolute equality, and how dangerous it is. In this world people are completely equal, and the way to make sure of it is by adding things that would hinder them, as illustrated above. No one is uglier nor stupider than anyone else, but no one is also smarter than anyone else, and anyone that breaks this rules is basically an enemy of the state. Harrison Bergeron is taken from his parents for he is not equal to everyone else, and ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Zaz rated it really liked it
A good dystopian short story in a world where equality is above everything. To obtain it, people are given disabilities. I found the society frightening, even if its goal was good, and the characters were creepy, reminding me people in Fahrenheit 451. A nice and interesting read.
And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!

Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the
laws of motion as well.

They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.

They leaped like deer on the moon.


WHITE SWAN, Leonid Afremov

Oil on Canvas, 24" x 30" (60cm x 75cm)

After reading this short story: Did you know that Kurt Vonnegut was a socialist?
Jul 01, 2015 Abdulrahman rated it really liked it
When equality is taken to an absurd level. Vonnegut's satirical take on egalitarianism.
Took me mere minutes to read, but my God, Vonnegut does it again.
A world where everybody is equal, hauntingly so. If you're beautiful, you wear a mask, the more beautiful you are, the uglier the mask. And God forbid, you're actually intelligent. If you are, there are sporadic bursts of noise emission from little mechanical devices that should be enough to scatter your thoughts. Other than that, there are handicap bags. The more capable you are, the heavier your bags.

Read online here: Harrison B
Jan 11, 2015 Shinjini rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shinjini by: Manju
The year is 2081. Everyone is equal. Not only in God or law’s eyes. Everyone is equal in every which way. Everyone is average. And if they aren't, they are given handicaps to achieve equality. This equality was achieved by the 211st, 212nd and 213rd amendments to the Constitution.

That means no one is more beautiful than the others, no one is more intelligent than anybody else. No one is stronger or quicker than anybody else. There was to be no competition. This is the world where we meet George
Ken Moten
"Some things about living still weren't quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime."

This is my first official Vonnegut story read for class. It is in simple terms an extremely abridged version of the type of universe that Fahrenheit 451 exists in.

But this story differs from F-451. While Bradbury's dystopia was an extreme regulation and limiting of information and ideas, Vonnegut's dystopia limited you physically as well as mentally.

What may surpr
Nov 12, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it
I know it's supposed to be satirical and all that but I got really depressed after reaching the ending. Would have rated it higher if only Vonnegut didn't present Hazel in such an unpleasant way. I mean, the notion of disability is something that scifi's been trying to address for the past few years. Writers are trying to break the stereotypes. And yet here he made Hazel's intellectual disability a pivotal source of the problem as though it's really all the stupid people's fault. It reinforces e ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Lena♥Ribka rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lena♥Ribka by: 19

A little gem. 9 pages.
It will take you some minutes to finish it and will make you to think about for hours after.
Apr 01, 2016 averybiird rated it really liked it
A great little story from Vonnegut. It is only 9 pages long, but well worth the read. Here's a free copy online: Harrison Bergeron

The story begins...

"THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitu
Hajarath Prasad Abburu
Oct 19, 2014 Hajarath Prasad Abburu rated it it was amazing
Brilliant stuff!
Tracy Reilly
May 19, 2015 Tracy Reilly rated it really liked it
This story, slightly over 6 pages, is a dystopic satire, as you might guess with Vonnegut, where competition has been completely eliminated from the human condition through handicaps. No one can be more intelligent, more beautiful or handsome, stronger, more talented, than any other human. Of course there are ridiculous means used to accomplish this. It is worth the quick read, although it doesn't work so well as Slaughterhouse 5 to give you a permanent ear worm in its catchphrase.
Mar 16, 2015 Mitticus rated it really liked it
Crítica socio-cultural política breve y al punto.

Aug 28, 2011 Chichipio rated it really liked it
Shelves: dystopia
Wow. I wasn't sure, at first, about how good this was going to be. For a moment there, it almost seemed to be just crazy, but then, the ending came and made everything clicked into the right place. Maybe the best spent five minutes of the day. Well, not counting when I was watching my dog chasing her tail, of course. (view spoiler)
Nov 09, 2014 16maxwelll rated it it was amazing
Harrison Beregeron is an amazing sci-fi short story. The book is in a world were smarter, stronger, and prettier than average people have handicaps to make sure that everyone is equal. George and Hazel Bergeron are the main characters of the story. George is smarter than average and has handicaps, and Hazel is the opposite. George has many thoughts like, what would it like to be in charge of handicapping, and what would peoples faces look like under their masks. Each time he has one of these sma ...more
Cassandra Lê
Jan 02, 2016 Cassandra Lê rated it really liked it
A great short story that is like 5 minute of reading. Found out about this story in my political philosophy course. What happen when all men are equal in appearance, ability, and talent? The result is a society that attempted to handicapped the most able men to ensure no competition and rancour between members. Horrid dystopian state.
Feb 02, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I loved this short story! Vonnegut set the stage concisely, and presented a thoughtful, if satirical exploration of the dark side of political correctness in an age when the implications of catering to everyone are becoming increasingly real.
Hrishabh Chaudhary
Feb 18, 2015 Hrishabh Chaudhary rated it it was amazing

One time in my Organizational Behavior class the teacher kept speaking in favor of reservation (he gave more lectures on social issues than his subject). His argument-"See I am tall, so I will always win at basketball. I have an unfair advantage over others, that's why they deserve some reinforcement. Same thing with college admissions and jobs. Think about it and you will realize it is for greater good."
Then he started his usual talk on Equality, Fraternity and Liberty.

I am
Ali Fawad
Apr 20, 2013 Ali Fawad rated it really liked it
This seems to me like a more diluted version Aldous Huxley's Brave New World where there was complete unity in a class, however not among the classes themselves.

An extremely creative take on a dystopian future. This takes equality among people to the extremes! The writing is simplistic and easy to understand, the plot is even more so; yet the way Vonnegut writes makes the most simple of plots amazing stories. I'm amazed to how he was able to develop fairly decent characters in only 9 pages, make
Zainab Tayyaba
Feb 20, 2016 Zainab Tayyaba rated it liked it
My feelings are mixed. Don't get me wrong - I did find the story relatively enjoyable, and I really appreciated the perfect delivery of deadpan humour at the end, but there's something about these kind of stories (ones which are overblown & ridiculously exaggerated in order to prove a point) which sometimes leaves me feeling a little unsatisfied. It's like the concept is soooo genius, but the execution is... Silly? The portrayal of Harrison's parents, their mindless television-watching, and ...more
Natasha Stemwedel
Oct 21, 2015 Natasha Stemwedel rated it really liked it
I liked the theme of the story. I think it could be turned into a novel if the author really wanted to. The story was quite nice but I think it should have ended with a big plot twist. Plot twists always make a story better because you never know what is going to happen next.

The story is about a society that tries to make everyone equal by handicapping anyone that is remotely above average. For example, if you were really smart you would have an earpiece that would sometimes go off
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Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journali
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“He tried. That's the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard.” 4 likes
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