What might it have been like to live in the same world with Harrison Bergeron in Kurt Vonnegut's short story "Harrison Bergeron"?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer above is a very good one, because it exposes the greatest problems and ironies of living in the same world as Harrison Bergeron. This is supposed to be a future world in which everyone is equal (and therefore everything in life is fair, right?), but the reality is that the way people are treated is not fair to anyone. Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" points out the futility of trying to define "equal" as "the same."

ANother problem with living in this future world is that there can be no excellence or achievement. 

Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. 

Of course, that means everyone who is more talented in any area-- more intelligent, more gifted, more...well, more anything--has to be diminished to the same level as those who are the worst at any given thing. This means no inventions, no arts, no entertainment, no medical advances, no explorations, and probably a million other things we would all never have, just because everyone has to be the worst at things rather than the best.

Of course, living in this world would also be boring. Everyone would be the same so there would be nothing more interesting about someone else than about you. I suppose it might be amusing to see all the ingenious "handicaps" which people wear, but since we would all have an underdeveloped sense of humor, things that are funny to us now would probably not be funny in Harrison Bergeron's world (as demonstrated by Harrison Bergeron's parents).

Finally, most people  would find this world to be quite frustrating. In fact, it might be maddening, as demonstrated by Harrison Bergeron's desperate attempt to be free of restrictions and limitations. Not being free to pursue one's own interests or strive for excellence makes for a world in which there is little joy and not much of anything else, either. 

arias11 | Student

I would feel horrible if I lived in the same world as Harrison Bergeron because it is unfair.

The first reason it is unfair is because, since I am gifted every single person in my class would be wearing more than one handicap. A lot of people are in some way or another smarter than somebody else and everybody would be stupid if everybody was totally and completely equal.

The second reason it is unfair is because if everybody was totally and completely equal, there would be no point of living. I mean if everybody, looked like everybody else the world wouldn't be filled with colors.  There would be no room for compliments, nobody would be able to do what they loved to do. I love to sing and I am pretty good at it, I like to design clothes and I like to do hard things but if everybody was equal, I wouldn’t be able to sing because I would be better than most of the boys and some of the girls, I wouldn’t be able to design clothes because it is different than what everybody else does and everybody in 6th grade  doesn’t know how to do 7th and 8th grade math like I do.

The last reason it is unfair is because it is mean. People have a right to be  different. Right now it is a free country. The Constitution says that everybody is supposed to be free but if everybody was equal it doesn’t reall follow the Constitution.

In conclusion I think it would be terrible, if every single person was equal to everybody else.

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Harrison Bergeron

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