Short Stories You Must Read: 2. Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut (1961)

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What to expect: A satirical and dystopian short story set in a 2081 world where, due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, the Handicapper General and its agents enforce equality on the population by law. The story is centred on George and Hazel Bergeron when the government imprisons their smart and athletic fourteen-year-old son, Harrison.

 

Best known for: Being set in an unsettling society where the strong, intelligent, and better-looking citizens are forced to wear ‘handicaps’ that set them on a level playing field with the rest of the population. The intelligent must wear in-ear mental handicap radio transmitters, the athletic must wear weights, and the beautiful wear ghastly masks.

 

Interesting Fact: Justice Antolin Scalia wrote a dissent that drew upon the story in the PGA Tour, Inc. v Martin (2001) case, where The Supreme Court ruled in favour of a disabled golfer who argued the PGA Tour couldn’t stop him riding a golf cart between shots.

 

Best Quote: “Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime.”

 

Final Words: If you like your dystopia thought provoking, satirical, and a little tongue-in-cheek, then this one’s for you.

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