Literary Techniques In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron

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In the story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, the US has reached “true equality.” The year is 2018 and because of the amendments declared by the government, people who have talents and gifts are handicapped to become average. Strong people have heavy weights, smart people have transmitters that don’t allow them to think straight, and attractive people wear masks. The main character, Harrison Bergeron is incredibly gifted, so when he was 14 he was taken by the government and placed into jail with huge handicaps. One day, he gets out and goes to a ballet and reeks havoc. Harrison tears off his handicaps and asks for a dancer-- tearing off her handicaps too. They dance together, but not for long. The handicap enforcer comes and shoots both…show more content…
This includes literary techniques such as repetition and word choice. These emphasize certain ideas as well as compare them. One frequently used technique is repetition. Vonnegut uses this many times, but the best example is on page 1. This quote from the exposition states, “Nobody was smarter… Nobody was better looking… Nobody was stronger…” The author repeats the word “nobody” over and over. This emphasizes the idea that everyone has the same skills and is equally gifted. The message of “true equality” is displayed throughout the whole story, but in the exposition the reader interprets this theme through the repetition of the word “nobody.” Another technique Vonnegut uses is word choice. On page 5 Harrison is at the ballet and asks the dancers who would like to be free of their handicaps. The quote describes the beautiful ballerina who volunteered herself, “A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.” The author’s word choice compares the idea of the ballerina rising and a swaying willow. It shows the extreme grace of the dancer as she stood to dance with Harrison. Because of this comparison, the reader knows that the dancer has the potential to be elegant, but the handicaps given to her by the government have restricted
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