Harrison Bergeron: Negotiation of Identity In a world with no individuality, is it possible for humanity to progress? In the short story, “Harrison Bergeron,” the author, Kurt Vonnegut, presents the idea of a conformed society in which everyone is totally equal; if one is superior to another, then they must wear a certain handicap to supress their talent. However, the flaw in this type of society is the loss of one’s identity and freedom. A conformed society technically wouldn’t be very equal because the government would still have power over the citizens and this could lead to a possibility of a dictatorship. Also, there wouldn’t be any innovation within a conformed society because everyone would be equal and competition wouldn’t exist
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Harrison is the symbol of hope and individuality in the story and when he gets shot, it shows the reader that the government has an unequal advantage over the people; this scene represents the idea of inequality in this society. Also, all citizens are required by law to wear a handicap if they are in any way superior to others. Everyone has been brainwashed by the government’s propaganda into thinking that the world is actually equal when really, it’s unbalanced. George for example, falsely believes that if he were to take off his handicaps, then the world would go back to the way it was, but this idea to them would mean chaos. The fact that the government is commanding the citizens against their will creates an unbalanced society in which the government is superior to others.
Furthermore, without individualism there won’t be any competition because everyone would be exactly the same; this leads to an absence of innovation and without innovation, humanity wouldn’t be able to progress any further. For instance, anyone that had an unfair advantage in the story, mentally or physically, was required to wear handicap. The handicaps restrained those who could think out of the ordinary and therefore could not present new ideas and innovation. Vonnegut reinforced this idea through the setting by creating a depressing and in a way, cynical mood. The story took place in 2081 and humanity hadn’t progressed