Student Question

From "Inside Stories II", which two characters from different stories can be compared and contrasted?

Expert Answers

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Harrison Bergeron and the female protagonist from The Lamp at Noon are both victims of their environment. Both try to confront the problems in their lives, and both lose.

With Harrison, the problem is societal. He is handicapped by his society, and he cannot live his life fully because he is forced to be something he is not--normal. He tries to change society by changing how view him and others who are not normal, but he is destroyed in the process.

With Ellen, the protagonist in "The Lamp at Noon," the problem is both environmental and societal. Like Harrison Bergeron, Ellen feels she is better than those in her immediate environment. She was a school teacher before she met her husband, and has had to take a step down to marry him (for Ellen, the marriage is the handicap, whereas for Bergeron, he wears his). She sees the problems her husband has with his land as a result of his ignorance, and the ignorance of farmers in general. Yet, she, too is destroyed by her environment.

Both Ellen and Harrison Bergeron are driven crazy by the constraints enforced upon them. Harrison Bergeron is driven crazy by trying to appear normal; Ellen is driven crazy by the dust storm. Both of them end up taking risks that bring about their downfall. Harrison is destroyed physically, while Ellen is destroyed mentally when she accidentally kills her child.

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