Harrison Bergeron Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 34 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Harrison Bergeron.
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Freedom

As a theme, freedom remains in the background of the story, emerging when Harrison escapes from jail. In the story's futuristic society, freedom is no longer a bedrock American value; enforcing the law that makes those who are "above normal" equal to those who are "normal" has become the major social value. Forced equality by handicapping the above-normal individuals evolved as a response to the demonized concept of competition (which existed in "the dark ages") in all its possible forms. Vonnegut suggests that freedom can be taken away relatively easily, especially since the forced equality in the story has been authorized by Amendments to the Constitution.

Civil Rights

Civil rights have become extinct in "Harrison Bergeron." The culture values mediocrity to the point that the people accept oppressive measures in the name of equality. Ironically, no one really benefits from these misguided attempts to enforce equality, except perhaps...

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This section contains 1,230 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Harrison Bergeron Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
Harrison Bergeron from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.