I recall reading an American SF short story which I read in my early teens. It made quite an impression on me. It starred a couple, a man of high intelligence, who every ten minutes was subjected to a burst of painful static, and his wife, a beautiful woman who was forced to wear ugly clothing.

At the time I took it to be a satire of communism, given that it was written by an American during the Cold War era. Although now, I wonder given a world of savage inequalities if it wasn't in fact being prophetic.

I don't recall either the author or the title of the story. Any help would be appreciated in identifying the author and the short story.


1 Answer 1


As per the comments and the deleted answer, this is "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut.

George Bergeron is Harrison's father and Hazel's husband. A very smart and sensitive character, he is handicapped artificially by the government. Like his son, he has to wear mental handicap earphones in his ears to keep him from thinking intensely and analytically. Because he is stronger than average, he has to wear weights around his neck. When his wife Hazel suggests that he could take these weights off for a while to relax, he rejects the idea. He wants to obey the laws and is unwilling to risk punishment for a little comfort. He believes that the situation in 2081 is better than it had been back in the days when fierce competition reigned in society. He has much respect for the rules and represents the common passive citizen who does not critique a government that manipulates individuals. Obeying the rules, he is even incapable of recognizing the tragic situation when his son has been shot to death - a harsh critique of passiveness towards authority.

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