Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron book cover
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What is the message of "Harrison Bergeron"?

The message of "Harrison Bergeron" is that there will always be people who are more talented and fortunate than others. By showcasing a world in which talent and skill are artificially handicapped, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. shows the need for the acceptance of both the disabled and the gifted.

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In a nutshell, the message of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Harrison Bergeron is that a society in which everyone is equal in every way is utterly implausible. The premise behind this great story is that equality is created by raising the quality of life of the disabled and artificially handicapping those who are gifted with particularly good looks, extreme strength, or above-average intellect.

The world of 2081 is one in which beautiful people are made less attractive by having to wear hideous masks, and intelligent people must tolerate headsets which seek to make their brains less efficient. This means that for our protagonist, Harrison Bergeron, who is over seven feet tall by the age of fourteen and is described as the best-looking young man imaginable, life comes with immense challenges.

While on paper, the justification for these laws seems ethical, the way in which these laws restrict gifted people and limit their progress are cruel and ludicrous. The exaggerated nature of these laws drive home the point of the novel, which is the need to accept that some people are more gifted than others and that while every effort should be made to uplift people, limits cannot be placed on their capabilities.

The murder of Harrison Bergeron and his dance partner drive home the message that in this world, there is no room for talent or anything out of the ordinary.

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