With whom do you think Vonnegut sympathizes in Harrison Bergeron? Does he present Harrison as a hero or is the story hero-less? Why?

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price7781 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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In Vonnegut's story about a society that takes away individuality, he would want his readers to sympathize with the citizens who suffer as their government takes away their individuality and rights.  The government professes that everyone should be equal--for example, no one is smarter or prettier than anyone else.  They make everyone "equal" by giving citizens handicaps.  Harrison, for example, is weighed down by bags of sand because he is large and strong.   Harrison's father's main trait that needs to be suppressed is intelligence, and so the government handicaps him with loud noises in his ears whenever he starts to think too much.  

Harrison was a tragic hero because despite his attempt to break free from his restraints and society, he failed.  Even the strongest could not beat the system of oppression shown by this society.  Even if Harrison succeeded in inspiring others to rebel, his message was quickly squashed by the government and forgotten by the citizens.  His own mother and father forgot the event of Harrison's rebellion within a few minutes of the broadcast.  If Harrison had succeeded, we would probably think of him as a hero; however, since his acts were in vain, there could be a good argument that there were no heroes in the story.

Vonnegut was trying to tell his readers to not give up and to fight for your rights to live how you want through Harrison. Maybe Harrison was a hero after all because he didn't just give in, lay down, and accept the society he detested.  He did stand up for what he believed in and was willing to die for his values and beliefs.  

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