Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron book cover
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What is the atmosphere of the story?

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The prevailing atmosphere is one of oppressive absurdity. This is a world in which citizens are forced to wear handicaps as part of an attempt by the government to make everyone equal. The physically fit, like Harrison, are lumbered with weights, whereas those who are intelligent, like Harrison's father, have their thought processes disrupted by headphones which emit loud blasts of noise at irregular intervals.

As a work of satire, however, "Harrison Bergeron" also has a decidedly humorous edge to its overwhelming air of absurdity. One cannot help but be amused by the references to dancers who can't dance and musicians who are tone-deaf. At the same time, one cannot ignore the oppressive atmosphere, in which all semblance of individuality is ground down and crushed by the brutal regime of Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper-General. It is this invocation of several different moods that makes "Harrison Bergeron" such an effective work.

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