Consider the physical traits and personality traits of Harrison, in the short story, "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Why is he considered a threat to society?

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kathik | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Harrison, in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s short story, "Harrison Bergeron," is considered a threat to the society he lives in for a few reasons. First of all, his physical strength surpasses just about anyone's.  He has been held down by all kinds of physical contraptions to keep that strength at bay, but in the story, he easily rips off his "handicaps" and proceeds to rip off those of the ballerina and musicians, too. His physical strength alone is enough to worry the people of power in his society where everyone is supposed to be "equal in every way."  However, not only is Harrison big and strong, he is also highly intelligent, and this is an even bigger threat to his society. He, if given the chance, can tell people what is going on, he can explain that by being "equal," they are not equal at all, that they are oppressed and all opportunities have been taken away from them. Sadly, in this story, Harrison is killed off before he has the chance to explain this to the people of this oppressive society. 

"'Even as I stand here--' he bellowed, 'crippled, hobbled, sickened--I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!'" (Vonnegut 6)

Harrison knows he is smarter and stronger than everyone else. He knows what the rest of society does not - he is much more than what the authorities want him, and everyone else, to think he is.

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