Harrison Bergeron Vocabulary

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Kurt Vonnegut's ''Harrison Bergeron'' is the story of a future world where equality is demanded through physical hindrance if needed. This lesson provides a focus on the vocabulary in this short story.


In the dystopic future world of Vonneguts, people are required to be equal. The government has determined that inequality is what causes war, so they have taken away the differences. Now the brilliant people are required to have technology in their brain that makes loud noises every few seconds. This assures that people cannot think properly, making them average. The beautiful people have masks on their faces to shield their beauty and keep them plain. Those who are graceful or strong have to wear weights that are strapped to them, ensuring that they lumber around like the rest of society.

In this story, Harrison Bergeron is the son of a brilliant man, George, and an average woman, Hazel. Hazel can only hold thoughts in her head for a short period of time, so she was never handicapped. However, George has the implant and hears loud bursts of noise frequently stopping any thoughts that he has. Their son was taken from them when he was only 14 because he was smart, handsome, and very strong. Originally, he had been handicapped, but Harrison was too rebellious and refused to submit to the rules.

However, in the story, we see Harrison's parents watching a ballet on TV, where they are notified that their son has escaped. George tries to focus but can't, and Hazel just watches the ballerinas. On the TV, they see their son break into the stage, choose a ballerina, and kiss her deeply while dancing for everyone to see, without weights or masks, showing how beautiful and brilliant the people could be. However, the ''Handicapper General'' comes in and shoots both Harrison and the ballerina in front of everyone. George had walked away, so he never saw that his son was killed, but when he comes back, he sees tears on his wife's face, tears that she has no idea why she had cried.

Vocabulary for Harris Bergeron

Vonnegut wrote intelligently and richly, which meant his vocabulary also reflected this.

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