Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How do Harrison's choices affect himself and the world?

Expert Answers info

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

calendarEducator since 2016

write7,253 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Harrison made choices that resulted in his being taken away by the "H-G men"—the men working for the Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers—as we learn when his father, George, thinks briefly about his "abnormal son who was now in jail." Though he is only fourteen, he has been "held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government." A genius and athlete, Harrison has escaped from jail and is not wearing all of his government-issued handicaps (which are meant to make him the equal of everyone else: of average intelligence, ability, and beauty). On live television, Harrison strips the rest of his handicaps off and declares himself the emperor. He chooses an empress from among the ballerinas who had been performing before he interrupted the news broadcast, removing her handicaps as well. When Harrison and his empress dance, "Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well." Yet, despite the couple's beauty and grace—in fact, because of it —Diana Moon Glampers shoots and kills them both just before the Bergerons' television dies. Harrison's parents, Hazel and George, immediately forget what they've seen and resume their life, suggesting that nothing has changed for them at all. George advises Hazel to forget sad things and then praises her when she says that she always does; George's headphones play the sound of a riveting gun in his ears, and he forgets as well. Ultimately, then, Harrison's actions have only succeeded in ending his own life and the life of the ballerina—he is otherwise forgotten by the rest of the world, even by the two people who ought to care the most for him.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial