A Naive Need for Social Equity
In his science fiction, satirical short story, “Harrison Bergeron” (1961), Kurt Vonnegut presents a society in which all people are handicapped to be equal, normal, average, despite being born with different genetics and abilities to explicate the downfalls of the American people’s fear as well as need to be equal in Vonnegut’s time. He develops this ideal through a story about the Bergerons, who are presently watching an average ballet in a manner that is concise and journalistic to represent the short-minded way of thinking the people of 2081 are limited to. Occasionally in these short remarks, they emit large amounts of irony and sarcasm just in the use of them or the words the sentences contain. The beauties and extremities throughout the story are illustrated in odd, yet fitting, similes and alliteration that are sprinkled amongst the plain text. The handicaps of the ones who are out of place in the world by being above average are a literal symbol for the handicaps surrounding equality. This equality is not one that today’s society would rarely think of; instead Vonnegut asserts equality as a below average, dim-witted bunch of people who are forced to not think by aching radio transmitters in their ears. This display of equity is exaggerated to such a lowly position in order to demonstrate what people being the same would actually entail— it would entail the most ignorant of all becoming the norm and stating that normal is “cheap, silly, [and] false” (4). Vonnegut turns equality into this horrible display with a tone of superiority, making his audience a society that is fighting for equality, think lesser of it; but, it’s not as if Vonnegut is implying that no one should fight for equality, he means that since every human is born with different strengths and weaknesses, thus equality amongst the public is a naive goal. The opening remarks— the very short opening remarks— set this sense of news story by blatantly...
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