47 pages 1 hour read

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1960

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“Harrison Bergeron”

  • Genre: Fiction; dystopian science fiction
  • Originally Published: 1961
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 830L; high school, college/adult
  • Structure/Length: Approx. 6 pages; approx. 15 minutes on audio
  • Protagonist and Central Conflict: The teenage protagonist, Harrison Bergeron, lives in a dystopian future United States in which equality is the highest goal, accomplished through severe means. Harrison rebels against his government, briefly takes power, and suffers the consequences.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Prison; guns; murder

Kurt Vonnegut, Author

  • Bio: 1922-2007; born in Indianapolis, Indiana; earned chemistry degree from Cornell University; editor of Cornell’s newspaper; served in World War II and was a prisoner of war; wrote for 50+ years and published novels, short stories, plays, and nonfiction works; known for black comedy (humor in difficult topics) and satire; work is critical of war and authoritarianism, but promotes Constitutional freedoms, human kindness, and personal responsibility
  • Other Works: Sirens of Titan (1959); Welcome to the Monkey House (short stories; 1968); Slaughterhouse-Five (1969); A Man Without a Country (essays; 2005)
  • Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts—Fiction (1967); Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Playwright (1970; Happy Birthday, Wanda June); Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (1973; Slaughterhouse-Five); Audie Award for Short Stories/Collections (2009; Armageddon in Retrospect); Science Fiction Hall of Fame (2015)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit: