Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What was the relationship between George and Hazel?

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,215 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

George and Hazel are Harrison Bergeron's parents, who live a difficult, oppressed life under the government's strict equality policy. In Vonnegut's celebrated short story "Harrison Bergeron," the United States government has amended the Constitution to ensure complete uniformity and equality in all facets of life. In the year 2081, agents of the United States Handicapper General ensure complete equality by forcing talented or attractive individuals to wear cumbersome handicaps that limit their potential and above-average abilities. In the story, Harrison Bergeron is an athletic genius who is imprisoned for attempting to overthrow the government. Harrison's parents, George and Hazel, struggle to remember their son and live a bleak existence.

Hazel has normal intelligence, which means that she can only think in short bursts and is rather ignorant. Despite her ignorance, Hazel is a sympathetic, gentle woman who shows compassion for her husband. In contrast, George was born with above-average intelligence and is forced to wear a tiny mental handicap radio in his ear, which emits periodic loud sounds to interrupt his thoughts. George is also forced to wear a forty-seven-pound bag of birdshot as a physical handicap; he refuses to remove a single metal ball in fear of being severely punished. George and Hazel both witness their son attempt to take over the country on national television before he is brutally murdered by the Handicapper General. Tragically, George and Hazel cannot remember anything they witnessed on the screen after the program switches.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial