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In Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron," how does Harrison feel about others, such as...

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firstladyjackson | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 4, 2012 at 7:33 PM via web

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In Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron," how does Harrison feel about others, such as the Handicapper General?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 4, 2012 at 8:13 PM (Answer #1)

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Having been handicapped to the extreme and placed in prison, Harrison Bergeron, a genius and superior athlete, regards others with antipathy. In truth, he is a product of his technological society which has effected desensitization, so he probably no longer remembers his parents, for instance.  Certainly, his parents are limited in their recall: Harrison's father George only remembers the day his son was taken away by the H-G men as "tragic" because they "couldn't think about it very hard." When George does begin to recall Harrison, it is only "glimmeringly" until a "twenty-one-gun salute in his head" prevents further contemplation of his child. 

Harrison, however, does remember his incarceration and knows that the Handicapper General, Diana Moon, is responsible for this action.  When he breaks out of prison and stages a rebellion at the television studio, understanding that Moon is an exception to the enforced rule of equality, Harrison declares himself as emperor, a sovereign ruler equal to no one, taking only the beautiful ballerina to be with him as empress. He declares, "Even as I stand here--crippled, hobbled, sickened--I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!" Harrison then "snatched two musicians from their chairs" waving them as though they are mere batons to direct the music. Thus, his power--had he succeeded--would have been corruptive as well since he feels himself superior to all.

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