Essay about Breakfast of Camps

Submitted By zer0six
Words: 833
Pages: 4

Abstract and Concrete Equality When one thinks of American ideals, the things that come to mind are the ideas that are highly regarded in the Declaration of Independence. These ideals include "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." With this excerpt from the Declaration, one can infer that Americans highly value ideas of human rights and equality. In the story "Harrison Bergeron," author Kurt Vonnegut explores the American ideal of equality. As does William James in his story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas." Each story makes its own critique of equality within American society with use of satire. The outcome of both stories are the same. In both stories, the authors conclude that the idea of equality within America is inherently flawed. This is due to the fact that equality exists as both objective and subjective matters within American Society. Equality exists only as an abstract goal to perpetuate the strive for a better society. In "Harrison Bergeron," Vonnegut gives his audience a firsthand view of what a society is like when true social equality is regulated and enforced by the government. Vonnegut focuses his use of satire on the American idea of equality. The utopia in which he writes about is fundamentally flawed due to the way the society regards equality. Vonnegut is showing his

readers that ultimately the American notion of equality is flawed. The obvious statement that Vonnegut makes is that in order to regulate social equality, we must bring down the society to a lowest common denominator. This is achieved in the story by adding weights to make the athletic more slow, attaching masks to the beautiful so that the ugly could feel secure and implanting neural devices that make the intelligent seem more like the dumb. Vonnegut intentionally keeps the flawed American ideal of equality as the main theme by focusing on these three subjective traits which are athleticism, beauty, and intelligence. One must ask themselves, are these three ideas solely responsible for social inequality? Surely objective aspects such as race, gender, income and class be factored into the scale of equating equality? Vonnegut intentionally diverts from focusing on these objective aspects of equality in order to imply that the American view of equality is distorted. This distortion is the result of a recurring flaw in American ideals, which is abstractionism vs. realism. By focusing on only subjective aspects of equality within the story, Vonnegut is understating that Americans need to focus on more important and relevant issues when it comes to dealing with equality. Secondly, the notion that the American ideal of equality is flawed is prevalent within the story "The Ones Who Walked away from Omelas." William James, the story's author writes about a utopic society in which every one of its citizens is happy, except for one.
The suffering and mistreatment of a child scapegoat is the reason for the happiness and prosperity of Omelas. The people of Omelas are aware of this dilemma and are able to accept the fact that their city thrives on the misery of one child. James focuses his satire on the American idea of equality while