Sunday, October 25, 2015

Short Story Sunday [13]

Harrison Bergeron
from: Welcome to the Monkey House
by Kurt Vonnegut

My Welcome to the Monkey House review will be split amongst several weeks of Short Story Sundays.  I will review each short story that appeared in the book.


This story is about a future where everyone was made completely equal.  Those people smarter, or more athletic than the stupidest or least athletic people were given handicaps to dumb them down or make it difficult for them to move.  The main character, George, is smart, so he has to wear his handicap earphones which constantly plays loud noises to prevent him from thinking analytically or too intensely.  His wife, Hazel, doesn't have any handicaps.  The story revolves around them watching a government sanctioned television program in which their son, Harrison, makes an appearance.

This just might be my favorite story from the anthology.  I loved how Vonnegut portrayed the idea of total equality.  He made it look as ridiculous as it is, nobody is truly equal to another, one will always have advantages over the other.  Not that one is better than the other, but two people, one will be smarter, but the other might be more athletic, or more artistic, or more attractive.  Vonnegut demonstrates this fantastically, from the conversation between George and Hazel to the musicians playing the music for the ballet and the dancers performing the ballet.  He also demonstrates how ridiculous a government has to be to in order to enforce equality.  This story was written during the Civil Rights Movement for racial equality in the US.  Vonnegut likes going to the extremes of what people were asking for (like what he did with "Welcome to the Monkey House" with the Church's stance on contraception).  It sort of reads as a cautionary tale - be careful what you wish for.

I give this one a 10/10.  It was such a great story, I loved it.  I listened to this as part of the Welcome to the Monkey House audio book.  It was narrated by Maria Tucci.

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