What connection do you see between Harrison Bergeron and the Pedestrian?
Anne: interesting question. I think what Bradbury and Vonnegut were trying to show us is...
Anne: a wonderful question! I think that they both have a utopian society in which they live in. In HB however, that utopia is based on everyone being equal using handicaps, while the Pedestrian only has everyone doing the same thing.
Anne: One connection I saw was the reoccurring theme of over oppressive governments.
Nick: Is it really a utopia? Isn't a utopia a perfect society? I do not think that either of those worlds were a perfect society, do you?
Anne: Good question, I definitley think that the two stories: Harrison Bergeron and The Pedestrian, are related because both represent a futuristic America in the minds of the two authors.
Anne: I thing that in both stories they took the idea of exuality to far.
Anne: I think that both stories face persecution of challenging the system, even when the system is questionable, or, even if it seems good.
Anne: Interesting question. I find it interesting that they both take place in the future. Harrison takes place in 2081 and the Pedestrian takes place in 2053. I noticed that both authors, Bradbury and Vonnegut, have a very pessimistic view of society. Do you think that they think the future will be like how they predict it will be?
Nick- Isn't having the handicaps make everyone do the same thing? Arn't the handicaps supposed to limit what people do so that everyone can only do the same things?
sami- what about the oppresive governments is reocurring?
What flaws or problems do you see in both the socities that would could them from being a utopian society, if there is such a thing?
Kristen: I agree with you. How can it be a utopia when everyone is not happy. Harrison was not happy and he showed that by rebelling.
Kristen, I totally agree with you, when you say the two societies were not perfect.
I find it interesting that in Harrison, you can see the society interacting, like you see inside the lives of the people, and in the Pedestrian the reader can't see how the society functions, so we don't really know how this society is
Vonnegut and Bradbury were introducing how the Government and technology could actually interfere with society as we know it. I think that they both have to do with the criticism of the government and their efforts to make society "better." In the Pedestrian, they (the government) tried to keep the people informed for their own good, but ends up having the people addicted to television and completely unaware to people outside.
I personally think that there was really no utopia in the story. The people just perceived their lives to be so much better than it was in the past. In Harrison Bergeron, Hazel was under the perception that life was so much better than it was in the past, where we are. What do you think of this?
Meg: How do you think the systems were good? In Harrison they made everyone equal and in the Pedestrian they required everyone to stay inside. How do you think those systems are good. Both systems limit people's freedom.
Lauren- Your question brings up my question. What is a utopian society?
I think they both take place in societies that have been "destroyed by technology". Both of these socities place serious restrictions on freedom and individual thought. In HB, the attempts to make everyone equal and thus dumb down everyone but the most dumb people in society has created a dynamic in which no one thinks, challenges or really feels anything. In the Pedestrian everyone stays in their house and watches television. Television replaces human thought and experience so that the viewer is a vegetable and there is no point to life…Both societies revolve around the false polluted element of the television which like Smith always says discourages thinking and thought and thus symbolizes technology's destruction of society...
Brooke: So are you saying that the goverment is a totalitarian form of goverment?
brooke- ya that was what they were meant to do. In a utopian society, everyone is suposed to be equal, and no one is special. So they used handicaps to make everyone the same as the lowest person. So why wouldn't they try to make everyone the best that they could?
Brian and Kristen: remember in the Giver when they lived in a utopian society? Most people thought they were happy, but there were a few that werent, and it was stilled considered a utopia.
I would like to know what the handicapper general was like? Was she intellegent, was she insane, was she happy or unhappy, was she "handicap" like the other citizens?
kristen: I think they were trying to achieve a utopia but to create everyone equal and to create everyone the same are different. A utopian sociaty is an idealistic world, not an achievable thing.
Lauren- Which government? Our government or the ones in the stories?
Here's a question for both inner and outer circle:Why did these short stories affect society when this was written? Does it still apply to people who read this now?
Anne: one connection i saw was the need for control. In Harrison Bergeron there was control because everyone being equal. In the Pedestrian there was control by everyone doing the same thing.
Nick: by reoccurring I meant that it's in both stories.
Both the Harrison Bergeron and the Pedestrian are set in the future and in both, humanity is controlled by technology. Or rather the government invents the technology to control the people. Why does the government want this lack of freedom for the people?
Inner Circle- Why wouldn't the HB government make everyone the best that they could be, by not give them handicaps but making them the best?
Kinsey: What I meant was that the systems SEEM good. At first impresstion, a society that is equal sounds appealing(the pedestrian), but turns out not to be.
In Harrison Bergeron, they made the uglier people wear a mask that was supposedly able to make people uglier, but then, the less ugly masks aren't equal. Does this make sense?
Brooke: I think that a utopian society is a society in which every person is happy. The places in the stories had unhappy people; therefore they were not a utopian society in my mind.
Brooke: You are very right, the handicaps were designed so that no one could do something that someone could not. As is says in HB, no body was better looking, stronger, smarter, faster etc. Are the handicaps in HB fair? Do you guys think that these are a good idea or a bad idea?
Kaeli: the definition of utopia is an ideal place or state, so it would have to be ideal for everyone.
In Harrison Burgeron and pedestrian both show that things that are not technology are can be very beutiful and artistic. In Harrison Burgeron the dance that harrison and the ballerina participated in was described as very joyous and graceful. In the pedestrian leonard enjoyed walking just for the beautiful scenary and to feel the wind on his face and the crunch of the leaves on his feet. Both stories try to give a type of warning to not give up your freedom to technology by giving up the joys in life that don't have to do with technology.
Nick- in HB the handicaps limit the people, how does that help them to make society better? I would be pretty mad if that happened to me. I also think that it would make the world worse, not better.
brooke: I really don't think their is a true utopian society... Just like in all of our readings, it is all a matter of perspective.
Brooke: That is a great question. This is strictly up to opinion. This could be decided by the goverment or whoever has the power to decide what it should be. So in my opinion the defintion of a utopian socity is up to whoever has the power to create it.
Quick question: Why would the government try to limit the potential of its citizens? Isn't that just kind of dumb because if everyone could do a job, let’s say a politician as good as the next person, our whole country would be run on mediocrity. It would be a whole flaw in the system.
I don't really even see either of these stories as realistic, especially in America!
Brooke- A utopia is a term that is meant to describe the ideal of the "perfect society". It is thought that a universal perfect society is truly inachievable (afterall everyone has a different idea of what creates perfect...) which is why when people study the idea of utopia they are really studying how people attempt to create perfect societies and what the results are..HB was an example of this...
Inner Circle- specifically bridget, I had that same question, why couldn't they just make everyone extraordinary rather than just average, but then I thought would this whole system in some cases help people who are less than average by making them better than themselves?
Brian: in most stories that we have read about "utopias" the people think they are happy, because they are being controlled, but in truth, they are not. Its still called a utopia.
Meg: Oh I see. So are you saying that the people that challenged the system knew that it was going to be bad? Do you think they have some sort of insight the others do not? Are the others just players who are willing to go along with an oppressive system and the challengers are the heros?
Kinsey: i don't think that the handicaps are fair. It's not a good idea to have them because no one can be equal. You can't make someone who is pretty wear a mask and expect them to be ugly. At some point someone is going to rebel.
How would they define equality in Harrison and Bergeron? To me it seemed that they misinterperted it to mean the same. Thats not how I understand it though
Brooke- if everyone had handicaps then they would be equal... but that is usually the irony of a utopia. Utopias don't create happiness, they create equality which is supposed to create happiness. However, it doesn't because there is no such thing as a utopia. If you had a utopia, then that might not be a utopia to someone else.
Why do you guys suppose Harrison is a giant man, but only at the age of fourteen. Is this a symbolism of some sort? Maybe Perfectness?
In both the societies the people themselves are the reason why they are in situation they are in. They have a complacent attitude which hinders them. So the handicaps are a state of mind.
Jordan- the pretty people had to wear masks. I just think that the masks would pin point the pretty people and then everyone would know that they were beautiful. I think that it is the same for the other handicaps, they just make the people stand out, if they didn't have to wear the handicap, wouldn't that be more of a "nutralizer" for people?
Nick: i do not think that either of the stories are a utopia. In Harrison Burgeron the government seemed like a dictatorship, plus the government was above the law. The H-G men didn't have any handicaps. Why do the H-G men get the privelge to not where handicaps when everyone else does?
Harrison Bergeron is the opposite of social darwinism and that the government encourages "lowness".
Inner Circle- In HB they were bringing people down to the lowest common denominator. That means that every person was brought down to the talent level of the least talented person in socieety... Thus everyone is equal because everyone is the worst...
Kaeli: I agree. Also, what makes a utopia a utopia? Perfect equality turned out not so well in HB, and it was considered a utopia. Now here's the question: is there such thing as a utopia? Is it possible to attain such thing in our world?
I think in both stories society is standing at an idle. How an new things be invented if everyone watches TV all day and does nothing else. Inner circle, you just mentioned evolution. Weather you believe in physical evolution or not, humankind's technology is evolving. With out being ourselves and having people who are 'above average' how is the new Iphone going to be invented? What is the point of living when no progress is being made. We work every day to advance the good of human kind. To have it stand at an idle is a massive loss of potential.
Jacob:That is an excellent question. I think that that is the point that Vonnegut is trying to make. I think that he is saying that trying to make everything equal is a bad idea. I believe that he is saying that we should celebrate the skills that someone does not have. I happen to agree.
If everyone is equal, why does the hadicapper gerneral control everything? so there is no real equality.
Kristen- How can everyone be happy all at once? What one person would love, another probably hates. I think that that's why in HB the people had to forget what happenes, so they can't be upset by anything and they would all feel the same.
Kelsey and Kaeli: I agree with both of you, Kaeli now that you mention the Giver’s society I see how a utopia can be imperfect and still be called a utopia. Kelsey, are you sure that a utopia is unachievable? Hitler was attempting to create a utopia but his ideas were not in anyone’s best interest. He believed that he could create a utopia and even put his ideas into effect.
Kaeli: You said it is called a utopia which does not prove that it is. It just shows that it might not be a utopia just called one.
Taylor everyone could not be extrodinary because then the government would lose control...
Nick: I think there is a little bit of irony in this matter, because equality was carried by the adding of the 211th, 212th, and the 213th amendments. Were these even voted upon, or were they put in by a tyrant?
Smith, that is not essentially true. The man is not responding to the voice. He is responding to the threat of being shoot. The bullet rules the minds of men.
Justin: I dont think a utopia is truly possible in this world. Think about it. It just isnt possible for everyone to be happy. Many people in the middle east, terrorists, would want Americans to die. But that isnt what we would want, so there is no way that everyone could possibly be happy
In response to the inner circle why do we listen to the commands of teachers and parents and even police?
Jacob- I don't have a real answer to your question but I would like to say that I agree because it seems kind of ironic that because this system is established on being equal and everything so it almost makes everyone average with no "flaws" persay, but then that whole system is flawed. So I think if I am thinking what you are thinking then maybe it seems that in order to have a non-flawed system the citizens of the society need some sort of flaws.
Trey: Is it possible that technology can evolve too much?
Brady: nice question. I think that they were designated maybe to do that. Or the society that is in the story, was the utopia of the HG members. It was the perfect society for them but definitely not for everyone else.
Brooke: I see your point in saying everyone can’t be happy, but I don’t agree with you. Though it is unlikely, I believe that every person can be happy in a society, and that society would be a utopia.
Alison: I completely agree. I think that they are not fair to those who truly excel. Like George, he had a brilliant mind which he could have been using to solve our nations problems, but he had to be dumbed down to match his wife. Is that really fair. Shouldn't we be trying to make our society better, not worse?
Jordan: if you are applying it to the constitution and our government then we would be infringing on "life liberty and the persuit of happiness" from our declaration.
Do the government officials have handicaps? or are they allowed to be "better" than everyone else?
Kinsey: I don't think that the other people living had what it took to challenge the system. They were like robots, egged on by fear of the authorities.
How does everyone being equal make them happy? Why does everyone think that they need to be equal to be happy? If everyone is equal, how can they be happy because they would still have to do whatever everyone else does. Why would they be happy?
Anne: What a good question. I think that Bradbury and Vonnegut weretrying t sya that there is no utopian society and there is no perfet person. No one can be equal.
This is a kind of tricky question but do you think if we isloated ourselves with people of the same interest and created your own utopia, would it last? Is isolation the key?
I think it is interesting how you guys are talking about presidents needing to be good speakers because I think both candidates are terrible speakers.. McCain is boring anad talks in long monologues... Obama is pretty much the same way...
No. We will advance to the point of our own destruction by our creations. There is no way to stop it unless we institute a utopia
Paula- how can the extraordinaryness of people cause the government to loose control?
Brian: it is considered a utopia because everyone is equal and no one is better than anyone else. It is technically "perfect" because no one is better than everyone else.
jonathan: good point. I agree there is no real equality but there can be some equality.
Brooke: Then if the really ugly masks showed that the person wearing them was beautiful, that really isn't equal. It is sort of an understood idea that beautiful people are wearing ugly masks. Does that make sense?
Jordan: we don't know what happened with that and maybe the author is trying to make us think about that. Did we manipulate the government to do that? Or did someone else do that? There is no answer to that question.
Doesn't it seem as if the handicaps excerbate the abilities of the people, because if I saw someone with an ugly mask or a big earpiece I would think about how they are smart or pretty and not dumb or ugly.
Good comment Kaeli. Like I said, It is all a matter of perspective.
Meg: Oh like what they were saying in the inner circle, that they were so programmed by fear that they would do things that oppressed their rights because they were afraid. I think that AnnaSophia and Jacob had interesting points about the bell and skypeing Smith into class. What do you think?
Kristen- How could everyone be happy? What would make that possible?
A society is aways going to have the one person that would challenge the system. The people were forced to have a utopian society like Communism in Russia and China.
Kristen: To achieve a utopia everyone has to agree the same idea is best. Like they are discussing in the inner circle, everyone would have to believe the same. Is that possible?
Jordan: That is such a good point, but the ear pieces would prevent them from even thinking that far into it.
Kaeli: I think so too. If everything is considered perfect, and everyone does somehow agree with it, it still wouldn't be perfect. Everyone is unique, so you can't have a perfect if no single person is the same.
Taylor: good comment. It causes the government to worry, because they fear that they cant control what is going on because they fear that the people's uniqueness makes them better than the people in the government so they must eliminate them so no one will try to take their power
I think the US has many distopian elements. They threaten us with fear (Patriot Act, Iraq War, Financial Crisis to get us to do things...). We act like we have all these rights but I often feel like we dont have anything. Besides we could never organize and rise up because we would be destroyed by the government. Also many people in this country are blinded by patriotism...
Guys you are forgetting that this is a satire. I don't think there is anyway that those things would keep down a rebellion. It is a hypothetical idea.
Jacob: i think the reason why a government would want to limit their citizens so know one could challenge them and they would be able to run things the way they want. It can put people in power in a very manipulative position which can be very appealing to people who are greater for power.
Jonathan: I really like your perspective of what Bradbury and Vonnegut were trying to show us about the two stories.
And also- it is impossible for everyone to actually be "perfect" because in Harrison, when George was watching the ballerinas dance, he noted that one of the ballerinas must be beautiful because she wore a really ugly mask, and had more handicaps, so everyone still knew that this ballerina was above average, thus making her "unequal"
Sydney: I had the same question because if they were at the same level then it doesn't seem like they could control the others so it just makes me wonder. And then if they are better then they are total hypocrits.
Meg- I agree it is most definitely all a matter of perspective. Some people think it is perfect, while others may hate it.
Kinsey: I think that Jacob and Annasophia had great points. I think it is easy to find fear in all stories, and in reality. What do you guys think?
Taylor-If everyone was extrodinary they would rebel against a government that would try to control them and keep them down. They would not be controlled by fear because their intelligence would rise above that...
Taylor and Sydney- Why does everyone need to be equal?
Jordan- thats exactly what i was bringing up. you cant make people equal like that! because people can see through the "masks"
Brooke: Sorry to answer your question with more questions, but if everyone had the things they needed in life wouldn’t they be happy? If everyone were equal would there be a need to have violence or crime? Hate and crime is rooted in people as soon as they start learning, if they weren’t taught about those, “bad things,” couldn’t everyone be happy?
good observance annas: the weights would make the people stronger when the government tried to make them weaker by putting te sandbags on the people who are stronger than the average person.
I think people in the inner circle are over-analyzing the "power" of the t.v.
Also, people can tell who is more beautiful than the others, because they can see that the more ugly the mask, the more beautiful the person. So truly, everyone is not equal, everyone can tell exactly how beautiful everyone else truly is
Inner Circle: What is it that makes the people allow the society to become the way it was?
Sydney: I completely agree! The handicaps just point out the people who are above average, not hide them. You can tell which people are special by looking at their handicaps. I think that this is even more cruel to the people who are not "special" because they see the handicaps and know that since they dont have any they must not be good enough.
Sydney-I think thats the whole idea they are creating an illusion of equality which the people are buying into when every element of the story claims that this illusion does not exist...
Is there any way to make everyone "that would make them truly equal?
Kelsey: That is exactly what I mean. Why would someone vote for an amendment that would allow everyone to have to be equal. But either they did vote for it, or is the country all of a sudden a communist society, or a dictatorship where laws are made for no reason, other than because the dictator gets something out of it.
Jordan- thats exactly what i was bringing up. you cant make people equal like that! because people can see through the "masks"and Brooke- we weren't saying that everyone should be equal, we were saying that there is a flaw in the system that this government has organized
Circle- I think the value is entertainment and relaxation at the expense of everything else...
Why does Mr. Leonard have all his lights on? If there is only one police car in the whole city, how could his house full of lights go unnoticed?
on the subject of the utopia, i believe that there is no such thing. A utopia is a complete imposibility. What is one person's utopia is anothers person's hell. There is always going to be someone who does not like an idea. That is why war exists.
They value order and obediance and symmetry
Sydney and Taylor: I also had the same question. I just don't understand how people would not rebel against the handicaps if there was no one above them inforcing it. And to inforce it wouldn't they have to be smarter? Is that why they have the lowest form of equality? So they can't realize tis is wrong?
Paula- What makes you think that they would rebel? I don't see how extraordinaryiness equals loss of control or a rebellion, can't people be good and still follow rules and such, because if you are extraordinary then isn't their a possibility that you can still have self-control and peaceful. I just don't think that being extraordinary automatically makes you automatically a rebel.
I have a question for everyone...Do you think that a lot of jobs were eliminated in the Pedestrian Society? The guy said he was a writer, which apparently was not a job anymore. Why do you think he rebelled against the system, and risked going to war...How come he hasn't been caught for 10 years, and then all of a sudden, one night, the "cops" get him. What do you think of this. Also, what do you think about Mrs. Smith's comment about how orginality isn't easy.
TV encourages people not to think which is why they like it and the government encourages them to like it. They dont have to work or worry or feel they can just watch and feel joyful...
Kristen- When you get what you want, don't you want more? Want something else? If everyone got what they wanted whenever they wanted, wouldn't they always want more and that would just build on the problem and make it worse?
The society of the Pedestrian values equality and not having any stress and wory. A life free of worries.
AnnaSophia-that is exactly why it went unnoticed. There is only one police car, so it could not possibly get all around the city of millions in one night. He just gets skipped over
Anne: Another connection I saw was the appearance and importance of the T.V.
Brady: I completely agree. Utopia cannot exist when everyone has their own thought. Even if it is called "utopia" some might disagree. Unless we want to resort to thought control like in George Orwell's 1984, utopia will never happen.
I think that in Harrison Bergeron the people really do challenge the system, but in The Pedestrian I don't think that deciding to not watch t.v. is challenging the system.
Kelsey: Are you sure that everyone would have to believe in the same thing? I think that people could agree to disagree and keep their opinions out to be debated. I don’t think that everyone would have to agree to live in a perfect world.
Meg-I think this is why this type of society could not exist. No jobs, no life how could the people survive...
Jordan: Exactly. I don't understand how this could have come about?
lsadler: That is a very good point, the earpieces would stop them from thinking too much into the situation.
jordan: i think the people would vote for the ammendments to be equal because the government dressed it up to a great thing. Or the government scared the people into voting for it or the government just added the ammendments and did not allow the people to vote at all.
Generally writers are the people who expose injustice. Think about the muckrakers in the industrial revolution. The first thing a controlling government would take away or kill would be the writers.
Kinsey: You bring up a wonderful point. The human thought is what is keeping the utopian society from happening. What would happen if you took away thought?
Kelsey, you said it perfect!
You guys are right. It is a society of no worries or pain but also no life, thought or experience... Still the people seem to like it. My question: Is pure happiness worse a loss of life...
Kristen: then how would it be a utopia?
The period of time was the transition from the 19th to the 20 century. They were scared of what was to come. Along with the whole communism thing.
Okay I clearly think that this story and this kind of system is both unrealistic and completely unfair but is there any good benefit from it?I am sort of thinking that if the system had the power to make everyone equal could it do good at all. Could it make some who are less than average, could it raise them up?
Have you guys seen the first batman movie? He is always thinking about his "mask", or his alternate identity. The same thing sort of applies here. The masks hide their true identities.
Why is TV so bad?
Brooke: That’s a great point, but in this supposed utopia wouldn’t greed be a thing of the past? Have you ever read the Uglies books? People in those books had hole in the wall that gave them anything they wanted, sure it turned out that they had something inserted in their brains to make them happy but it was still a world free of greed and want, making it a perfect world.
Lauren: I think that if you take away thought, you take away freedom. Because even if you take away every other right a person has, they are free and safe in their mind. Think about the holocaust survivors. They had no rights, but they were still aloud to think what they wanted. What do you think will happen lauren?
Trey: You are so right! What do you think the writers are replaced by?
Kelsey- What made our government the way it is? I think that it's the same with how the governments in these stories are. It all depends on what the writers thought would happen to the world at the time. I don't think that you can predick how the future will be because the world is always changing and you never know what will happen.
Is it bad to have tv take over your life if you enjoy it...
Kinsey: If you had no thought you wouldnt even know!
Kelsey: It would be perfect because the world would be free of conflict.
I dont think there is any such thing as a perfect world
Has anyone read the Uglies series? it is a lot like this conversation, and in this book they actually do take away thought. Once you turn 16 you get surgery to become blindingly beautiful, and in the process they put a chip in your head that clouds any thoughts that could cause the government to fall apart, and this main character realizes this and challenges this system, and succeeds!
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