Narrator and point of view

The short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut is told by a third-person narrator. The narrator mainly presents the events through George’s perspective and knows what he thinks and feels: “He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that”. However, there are moments – like Harrison’s execution – which are not witnessed by George, who is in the kitchen. 

The narrator also functions as an objective witness to the events. When the events that take place in the TV studio are described, the narrator simply presents them as an outside observer: “It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor”.

Most of the time, the narrator’s knowledge is limited to what George experiences. Nonetheless, there are times when the narrator seems to notice things that George cannot possibly know: “He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up”. In this example, the narrator knows that the Handicapper General’s agents have trouble finding suitable handicaps for Harrison. The final part of the story is presented only from the perspective of the detached narrator, as George is not in the room when his son is executed. 

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