Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut
“Harrison Bergeron” is a short story written by American writer Kurt Vonnegut, first published in 1961 and widely considered to be one of his finest works. It appears in his 1968 collection Welcome to the Monkey House. Vonnegut wrote the story as a satire on the claim that all people should be equal, a criticism of socially enforced equality.
The plot of “Harrison Bergeron” takes place in 2081, when the Constitution has been amended to dictate that all Americans must be fully equal. Agents of the Handicapper General ensure that those who happened to be more beautiful, intelligent, or athletic are fitted with “handicaps.”
Fourteen-year-old Harrison Bergeron is taken from his parents for being too intelligent and athletic, but his parents do not notice because his mother is of average intelligence, and his father is handicapped by a government-installed radio to keep his own intelligence in check. While watching television, his parents hear, via a handicapped ballerina, that Harrison has escaped from prison, but are unable to recognize him.
Harrison breaks into the television studio, attempting to overthrow the government and declares himself Emperor. He declares the ballerina his Empress and releases her from her handicaps. The two kiss, but the Handicapper General arrives and shoots them both. Back at home, Harrison’s father asks his wife why she is crying. She says that she saw something sad on television, but cannot remember what it was.