In "Harrison Bergeron," who would George Bergeron, Diana Moon Clampers, Harrison, and the ballerina represent in our modern day society? Would they represent a specific person or thing?   

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The characters of Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" are more representative of types than they are individual characters. Here is what they represent:

  • George - the intelligentia, the literari
  • Diana Moon Clampers - agents of the government
  • Harrison - Defiant intelligentia, rebel
  • ballerina - the artistic, the cultural arts

     With these type, or stock characters, Vonnegut's message of how oppressive measures to make everyone equal would be. His foresight of the dangers of certain government dictated programs was uncanny; for instance, educational programs such as No Child Left Behind brought into question the dilemma of holding back certain groups while trying to enable others.
     In "Harrison Bergeron," Vonnegut's contention is that in order to make everyone equal, people like Hazel, who is a perfect "average," must be the standard; to do this, others such as George, who is highly intelligent, and the ballerina, who is very talented and beautiful, must be prevented from reaching their potentials because excelling above Hazel's level is illegal. They, then, are penalized and suffer. In short, Vonnegut seems to be saying that there is no way to prevent someone from being oppressed in a society in which everyone receives the same benefits, even if laws are passed.
    

All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendment to the Constitution.

Invariably, also, there is rebellion against a government that is oppressive as it effects laws requiring equality. So, despite the Diana Moon Clumpers, there will rise those like Harrison, who refuse to be forced into a degrading submission. In history, revolutions begin, radical groups form, ultra-right political groups form, etc. No one truly wants to be exactly the same as all others because in order to "equalize" people some are penalized.

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