In "Harrison Bergeron" what is the author saying about creating a perfect world by equalizing everyone?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, if you look at the results of the story--a teenager brutally murdered with his parents not even having the wherwithal to mourn his death for very long, it's hard to conclude that Vonnegut has anything positive to say about a society that tries to force people to be equal.  Either way, the right question to ask is "Is it WORTH it to attempt to have a society where everyone is forced to be equal?"  Think of the people in the story--no one was allowed to be themselves, they all lived in fear of being imprisoned if they let their true selves slip out, their every word and movement was burdened with everyone else's feelings of equality and the potential for punishment, their intelligence and beauty was stifled, true affection was muted, and there was no beauty in any form (music, literature, art or dancing) to uplift and inspire their souls.  It was a horrible existence.  We need variety and excellence to make life beautiful and worth living for.  We need to have standarts of excellence to give us goals to strive for.  We need to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to be strong.  And ultimately, if we cannot reach our ultimate potential, we can never be truly happy.

Take the rebel, Harrison Bergeron.  He refused to submit to the equalizing process.  And in the entire course of the story, he is the only one who seemed happy.  His happiness was contagious and gratifying.  He was strong and fulfilled.  Taking all of these thoughts into consideration, Vonnegut seems to be pointing out that equalizing everyone is not worth it, and would result only in misery and unfairness.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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Harrison Bergeron

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