Harrison Bergeron

by: Kurt Vonnegut

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Harrison Bergeron

Harrison represents the spark of defiance and individuality that still exists in some Americans. He has none of the cowardice and passivity that characterize nearly everyone else in the story. Rather, he is an exaggerated alpha male, a towering, brave, breathtakingly strong man who hungers for power. When he storms into the TV studio and announces that he is the emperor, the greatest ruler who has ever lived, he sounds power-mad and perhaps insane. At the same time, however, his boastfulness is exhilarating. It is an exaggerated expression of the defiant urge to excel that some Americans still feel. When Harrison rips off his steel restraints and handicaps, the physical strength and beauty he reveals reminds some viewers that underneath their own restraints and handicaps, they too are still talented or lovely. But in the end, Harrison, symbol of defiance, is killed in cold blood by Diana Moon Glampers, the administrator of government power. The quick, efficient murder suggests that if a defiant spirit still exists in America in 2081, its days are numbered.