Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron book cover
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Which statement best expresses the theme of this short story? A. Attempting to achieve complete equality will only result in widespread dissatisfaction and lack of creativity. B. The government should encourage everyone to hide their differences in order to have a more peaceful and equal society. C. Forcing uniformity on people doesn't result in equality, but rather causes conflict and unhappiness. D. People don't realize how important individuality is until they have what makes them different taken away.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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All of these options except B are perfectly plausible answers. However, I would argue that D best expresses the underlying message of "Harrison Bergeron." All too often, we take our individuality, our uniqueness, what makes us special, for granted, preferring instead to submerge ourselves into collective wholes. Sometimes it's necessary, even desirable to do this. But in doing so, we must never lose sight of our individuality.

Unfortunately, that's precisely what seems to have happened in the dystopian society depicted in "Harrison Bergeron." One gets the impression that the government was only able to implement its policy of radical equality, dragging everyone down to the same level by the imposition of handicaps, because people no longer valued their individuality. They'd developed such a collectivist mindset that the government was able to put in place such a frightening program of social engineering, imposing total uniformity on society through the crudest means possible.

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