Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut

In “Harrison Bergeron,” a widely acclaimed short story by World War II veteran Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007), the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution ensure that all people are equal. No one can be prettier, more athletic, or smarter than anyone else, and order is maintained by the vigilant minions of the Handicapper General. Satirical and alarming, Vonnegut’s story considers what happens when a core American value is misinterpreted—and the government controls the very thoughts of its citizens.

  1. What mainly do the following lines about the ballerinas reveal (paragraph 10)?

    They weren’t really very good—no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in.

  1. The news announcer’s speech impediment in the following passage (paragraph 37) adds to the development of the story mainly by ____________.

  2. What is most closely the significance of “Halloween and hardware” in the passage below (paragraph 44)?

    The rest of Harrison’s appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever born heavier handicaps.

    The television does not go out until after Diana Moon Clampers shoots and threatens people most likely because ____________.

    Which of the following inferences is best supported by the story?

  3. Which of the following selections is most closely true?

  4. Which statement from the text most strongly supports the answer to Question 5?

  5. Which excerpt from the text most strongly supports the answer to Question 7?

  6. Instructions for Student

    Match each line of dialogue with its speaker.

    Dialogue Character
    “I’d have chimes on Sunday—just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion.”
    “Play your best and I’ll make you barons and dukes and earls.”
    “If you see this boy, do not—I repeat, do not—try to reason with him.”
    One of the Ballerinas
    “Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out. I don’t call that a bargain.”

    Instructions for Student

    Match each object or idea that comes up in Harrison Bergeron with its significance within the world of the story.

    Object or Idea Significance
    Shots Being Fired
    Used to distract critical or deep thoughts that George begins to have
    Gives one the ability to defy both the laws of the government and the laws of nature
    Conspicuously still permitted to be in people’s home and consumed by them
    Seen as an inevitable result if people are not kept at identical levels