Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron book cover
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Do you think that impediments push us to greater heights? How does "Harrison Bergeron" illustrate this?  

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Michael Del Muro eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Simply put, I believe the abilities to overcome impediments and learn from failure are absolutely essential when it comes to reaching greater heights. That said, while impediments are present in "Harrison Bergeron," the ability to overcome them is not, which restricts anyone in this society from reaching "greater heights." In fact, the one character who does overcome his impediments and is able to "kiss the ceiling" is shot and killed by the government representative. 

That is the great irony in the idea of "equality" in "Harrison Bergeron." While equality generally means that impediments are removed so that citizens can reach "greater heights," the word is used to lower expectations for everyone in the society so that "Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else."

Impediments in this case are used to keep people under control. Even when a character is able to overcome these hindrances, he is brought right back down and unable to achieve "great heights."

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