Essay by GhostPhaceCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2002

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I used Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" and Etheridge Knight's "Hard Rock..." to exemplify how society standardizes all cultures to fit what just the "majority" deems acceptable and the price that is payed when people stand up for their individuality. Two other essays are cited as support.


Law, whether divine law or governmental, is needed in human society if order and structure are to be kept. In democratic America, the majority rules. Therefore, it has the power to standardize any belief. Those in the minority often slowly convert to the majority's opinion, because refusal can mean punishment or death. For some, that is not a large price to pay in exchange for personal freedom. But some refuse to make that exchange, so they rebel, and occasionally the beliefs of these rebellious individuals are recognized as right and become accepted. These then become the people we celebrate historically because of their courage.

But more commonly they are considered dangerous to society and are disposed of. Etheridge Knight's poem "Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane" and Kurt Vonnegut's short story "Harrison Bergeron " exemplify the extent of punishment when individuals stand up and declare their freedom.

It is hard enough for a government to maintain control over all when it is right, but when it is wrong it usually has to resort to brute force to quell rebellion. Etheridge Knight exemplifies this in his poem "Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane". Hard Rock is a black inmate in a racist and brutal prison. Before he was taken away, he had had to battle daily against the prison guards as well as his fellow

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inmates "and he had the scars to prove it" (Knight 1). Hard Rock...