Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Please give an example of one figurative element in "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut.

Expert Answers info

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write4,539 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Kurt Vonnegut's futuristic short story "Harrison Bergeron" is replete with figurative language of many kinds. You asked for one, so I chose simile because they are vivid and effective in making Vonnegut's point about the ridiculousness of equality (rather than equal opportunity) for all. I have italicized all the similes in the passages below.

He uses this simile to impress upon his readers how badly people will feel (in 2081, anyway) if they are not as beautiful as someone else.

[T]heir faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in.

Another handicap people are given is earpieces which distract the more intelligent citizens so they will not be able to think as clearly and therefore be more intelligent than anyone else.

"Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer," said George.

The title character, Harrison Bergeron, is only fourteen years old, but he is an extraordinary young man in every way, In fact, he weighs three hundred pounds with all the handicaps he carries.

Harrison looked like a walking junkyard.

Harrison is wearing a contraption on his head, and when he begins to take off this handicap, "the bar snapped like celery."

Just before he is shot down by the Handicapper General, Harrison and a beautiful ballerina display beauty and grace, something which certainly makes them unequal to everyone else. First, though,

Harrison snatched two musicians from their chairs, waved them like batons.

Then, "a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow," and she and Harrison "leaped like deer on the moon."

All of these similes serve to depict the world of both oppressive equality and ecstatic and beautiful inequality. 

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial