Sameness In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron

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1965, a year which started the most substantial cultural movement in United States history: The Civil Rights Movement. This movement served as a catalyst for equality between White and African Americans. After years of suppression, African Americans took a stand against white suppression, fighting for equality to be placed on the same plane of the social hierarchy. At the time, African Americans lived as socially lower beings in comparison to white people based solely on the lack of sameness. Of course, this lack of sameness is not something they could change. One race cannot simply defy nature and transform into a completely different race. The blacks were not only aware of this fact, but they also embraced it and pushed for equal rights.…show more content…
Sameness allows for the cultivation of insecurity and fear in lieu of the success of others. Rather than viewing differences gifts among individuals, those who desire sameness fear not being identical with others. Sameness is uniformity; it is the printing of one piece of art, rather than several unique original pieces. A cautionary tale regarding sameness can be found in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.” In “Harrison Bergeron,” Vonnegut crafts a dystopian future America that has concerned itself with sameness. Everyone was forced to be equal, or rather, identical in uniform and totalitarian manner. The story is set in the living room of the title character’s parents, George and Hazel Bergeron. They are watching a performance of ballerinas on the television. Vonnegut’s description of the ballerinas serves as an example of the uniformity of this nation: “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” (1961, p. 8). In this version of the United States forces Americans to be the exact same, both in intelligence and physical attributes, all for the sake of fairness. Rather than run the risk of people existing as different entities, they force them to stay the same for the sake of equality. While Vonnegut’s short story may be an extreme example of sameness, “Harrison Bergeron” displays the terrible outcome that could be caused by the concentration on sameness. Drawing back to a less extreme example, imagine the two men at the gym. Perhaps one man is naturally stronger than the other man and therefore is able to lift more weight. Sameness in this circumstance is forcing the stronger man to deny himself of progress and lift the same as the weaker man, despite his natural
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