Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron book cover
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What actual developments, policies, and/or trends involving government relate to the criticisms in "Harrison Bergeron"?

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In "Harrison Bergeron," a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, the author challenges the widely held notion that absolute equality should be a virtue in our society.  The story praises individual strengths and talents through the absurd twists that are enacted on the characters.  Vonnegut seems to criticize any policies or social developments that do not honor our differences.  For example, in the story, any women who are thinner than others are weighted down with heavy clothing and sacks.  In recent developments in our society, the media has been criticized for portraying only thin women in advertisements.  Based on the attitudes put forth in "Harrison Bergeron," Vonnegut might argue that our criticism of the media is wrong because we are not all meant to look the same--some people are thinner and some are bigger.  Similarly, governmental policies that strive for equality over talent would also be criticized (i.e. some forms of affirmative action).

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