Maintaining Order at Their Expense

Topics: Sociology, Harrison Bergeron, Kurt Vonnegut Pages: 4 (1424 words) Published: April 15, 2013
Maintain Order at Their Expense
There are a vast number of different cultures in our world, but one thing stays the same among them all: each culture defines a certain set of rules, or “norms.” Society shapes the way people who belong to a particular group or area live and interact. Those who act differently and violate these imposed set of rules ultimately deviate from this norm and are therefore shunned away. Because these people are condemned or looked down upon, they act as bad examples to reinforce social norms. Two characters that portray such social deviance are Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron and Ray Bradbury’s Leonard Mead of “The Pedestrian.” By labeling people as “social deviants,” people attempt to keep order in society. The common social deviant in a way embodies the ideals of individualism. As a given society sets up boundaries to which social rules separate and differentiate the good people from the outcasts, socially deviant people tend to avoid conforming to what others are doing and follow their own individual values and beliefs. In Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”, the society’s government maintains a certain level of normalcy, where everyone is forced to have same opportunities as their neighbor: “George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains” (Vonnegut 1) George, while having the intelligence potential to surpass others, he, as well as every other superior (mentally and/or physically) citizen are issued handicaps by the government in order to restrain themselves from competing with one another. Removing one would be considered a federal offense. This forced elimination of individuality shows how demanding conformity is to this government. In a...
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