Notes

This printable supports Common Core ELA Standards ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1, ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2, ELA-Literacy.9-10.3 and ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6

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Analyzing Science Fiction (Grade 10)

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Analyzing Science Fiction

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213 th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren't quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron's fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn't think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel's cheeks, but she'd forgotten for the moment what they were about.

The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It wasn't clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say, "Ladies and Gentlemen."

He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.

"That's all right-" Hazel said of the announcer, "he tried. That's the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard."

"Ladies and Gentlemen," said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred pound men.

And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. "Excuse me-" she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.

"Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen," she said in a grackle squawk, "has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous."

A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen-upside down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was exactly seven feet tall.

The rest of Harrison's appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever born heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides.

Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.
1. 
In this story, Harrison Bergeron represents the spirit of...
  1. conformity
  2. family values
  3. dependence
  4. rebellion
2. 
One can infer that Harrison is bright and attractive because...
  1. he wears many handicaps and must disguise his looks.
  2. the government is going to give him an award.
  3. he is taller than most people.
  4. he dances on TV.
3. 
Think about the characteristics of science fiction listed below. In the boxes on the right, write notes describing how each characteristic of science fiction applies to "Harrison Bergeron."

Characteristic of Science Fiction

1. Presents strange or unusual characters or events
2. Has an element of science that makes the events credible
3. Comments on or reflects human nature or society

How do the characteristics apply to "Harrison Bergeron?"



4. 
What is the main goal of the society in the story?
  1. Equality
  2. Fairness
  3. Justice
  4. Oppression
5. 
In today's culture a handicap traditionally means something people must overcome. How does that differ in the story's culture?



6. 
Which goal of the Constitution is used to support the amendments made by the government?
  1. To form a more perfect Union
  2. To establish justice
  3. To ensure domestic tranquility
  4. To secure the blessings of liberty
  5. None of the above
7. 
Why do you think the government took Harrison away?



8. 
What did the ballerina have to apologize for?
  1. Her gracefulness
  2. Her voice
  3. Her colleague
  4. Her performance
9. 
What problems could arise from a society such as the one in the story?



10. 
What purpose did the annoying sounds and headaches serve?
  1. They made people angry.
  2. They caused people to go deaf.
  3. They interfered with people's mental ability.
  4. They helped the government control people's lives.

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