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    A Caution About Reality in the Short Story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut

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    The story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut is a tale that, I believe. Admonishes or cautions us about a reality that has, in fact, been based on what Vonnegut may have considered a likely future for his own world. In this future, every particular individual is as equal as everybody else. Whether they were born that way or were given special “handicaps” to hide gifts such as beauty, brains, and athletic ability. In the way he describes it, though, Vonnegut makes us fear any way of life that comes close to his imaginary one.

    For instance, in “Harrison Bergeron,” Kurt Vonnegut starts out. By saying how things just “weren’t quite right,” a key set of words that already unravels the reader’s thoughts on the good of such a society. In addition, the author also describes the pain and suffering any citizen with an uncommon quality must go through on a frequent basis, which, of course, instantly instills uneasiness in the reader and the notion of living in an environment like this. A few examples of this include George and his ear piece that constantly blurts mind-numbing noises into his ear and brings him to tears, the ballerina and her mask to hide her good-looks, and, lastly.

    Harrison and his armor and weights made to hinder his speed, agility, and strength. However, this whole idea of desperation is turned around when, our hero, Harrison emerges, the reader then believes that there may be hope for change or rebellion in such a society until, suddenly, the general destroys the opinion by killing this one man who could have succeeded, once again warning us and bringing forth the truth about the utter hopelessness of staging an upheaval against a government that has the ability to effectively control events and people.

    Moving onto my next point, I do agree with the belief that this short story was probably influenced by the events that were happening when Vonnegut wrote this. Looking back into history, at this point in time the United States and the Soviet Union were involved in a cold war. This, in turn, caused opposing political views to circulate through society, causing distrust and suspicion and eventually leading to “McCarthyism”. McCarthyism was an time when suspected communists or “sympathizers of communism” were questioned and stripped of their life title(s).

    This frightening era was represented in, most prominently, the government and entire reality of “Harrison Bergeron”. In a manner like the story Vonnegut tells, the ruling class had complete control and obedience of their followers and could make them believe, forget, and live any way they wished to. Also, they took away their distinguishing characteristics, voice, freedom of speech and thought, and their life in general.

    It showed that, like this trying time dealing with the Soviet Union, fear can push people to desperate measures and can even control their lives and liberties. In reality, we should stop to think about any of our actions or beliefs controlled by foolish notions that we let control us. It is this imperative, in the end, that the wise Kurt Vonnegut is trying to get across to us by writing this short story. In conclusion, “Harrison Bergeron” was, in fact, made to warn us about this reality depicted in the story, which is one that Vonnegut may have believed to be likely considering the current events of the time.

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    A Caution About Reality in the Short Story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut. (2022, Dec 13). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/a-caution-about-reality-in-the-short-story-harrison-bergeron-by-kurt-vonnegut/

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