The story of “Harrison Bergeron” is more impactful when told through text than film because the text’s use of literary devices leaves more up to the imagination. This makes for more effective storytelling. When looking at the text’s use of literary devices, the expanded moment when Harrison dances with the ballerina is particularly impactful because of it’s use of figurative language and it’s elongation of time. When Harrison and the ballerina “reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun” and when “they leaped like deer on the moon” the whimsical tone of the story enraptures readers with a sense of wonder. Compare this to the movie, where the focus is placed on the United States Handicapper General, and the military plot to supress Harrison Bergeron. The imagery adds to the plot because it is in sharp contrast with what happens next, as “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. ” This juxtaposition of contrasting ideas shocks the audience; in the movie 2081, one sees that Diana Moon Glampers is going to enter the theater with the shotgun, there is no shock, no quick shift of gears. One can infer what is going to happen, even without watching the ending. This divergence in plot makes the short story superior, as it’s jarring effect on the reader gives the story more impact; the shock that the audience experiences leads them to think about what just happened. Secondly, the text “Harrison Bergeron” is a more effective medium because it leaves more of the narrative up to one’s imagination. For example, the story says that Harrison and the ballerina abandon “the law of gravity and the laws of motion.” Whereas in the movie, their feet remain firmly on the ground. The film fails to capture the tone of this segment, the whimsy, the imagination, to the detriment of the story. In addition, the movie features Harrison giving a long monologue about his time spent in captivity and the necessity of freedom, the book shows Harrison declaring himself emperor. I found that the monologue in the movie really didn’t add anything to the story, and took away the fictional, dreamlike feel that the book magnificently captured. In conclusion, the short story’s use of literary devices and intentional vagueness contributes to a more impactful tale than the one depicted in the film.
- What draws you to your chosen person?
- Something that draws me to Catherine Donahue is her persistence in the face of tragedy. As her case progressed, it became clear that she was going to die, but she still continued with the litigation. She was shunned for suing one of the only workplaces in Ottawa. Illinois at the time, and was also advised by her doctor to not continue the lawsuit because of her ill health. And yet, she persisted. Through her persistence, she won monetary compensation, and even though this cannot reverse what happened to her, it was a step forward in worker compensation and advanced the concept of worker safety in the United States. Her persistence in the face of adversary is inspiring.
- As a learner, what do you share in common with your chosen notable?
- I would say that we are both interested in the legal system. We were raised in very different eras, and in different regions. I think our interests, while similar, are also a result of vastly different circumstances. I find litigation interesting because of the role it takes in shaping society, while she turned to it as a way to find justice.
- What qualities do you share in common with your chosen notable?
- I think we don’t share a lot of qualities. I aspire to emulate her dedication in the face of hardship, as well as her perseverance.
- To what extent does your chosen notable exemplify your own goals in TALONS?
- Something that Mr. Morris has told us is that grade 10 TALONS is all about achieving our own autonomy. In many ways, Catherine Donahue was able to achieve her own autonomy, even though she was physically reliant on others. She was advised by others in her community to not pursue a settlement, because she would potentially harm the community’s relationship with the company. Her doctor also told her that she couldn’t pursue the lawsuit because of her health. Catherine made the decision to continue and was able to win her case.
- What barriers might you have connecting with your eminent person- gender, class, religious faith, geography- and how might you address these barriers in your speech?
- Catherine Donahue was a very devout Catholic, and one of the things she talked about was not being about to attend church; she was unable to kneel because of the radium in her hip. While I am not religious myself, I think that I will be able to accurately portray her by being empathetic and finding as much information about her as I can.
- How has this person contributed to their field in a tangible and positive way?
- Catherine Donahue has improved the lives of laborers and workers by ensuring companies are held responsible for their actions. Her case set a legal precedent for the compensation that workers are entitled to. Her case was ground-breaking because of the circumstances of the case: she was suffering from an industrial disease, which had manifested itself a few years after she stopped working for the company. In this time period, companies where not substantially held accountable; Catherine Donahue’s case, with it’s legal implications as well as publicity, helped hold her employer accountable, and paved the way for others holding their employers accountable.
- In what ways has this person left a ‘ding in the universe’? Will they be remembered for affecting change in 10, 50, or 100 years? If so, how and why?
- Catherine Donahue left a ‘ding in the universe’ because of her actions. By winning her lawsuit against US Radium, she set a precedent for which workers could use to fight for their right to preserve their health and well-being. At the heart of her lawsuit was the question of what was more important: companies’ profits or individual health. This is a dilemma that we still face today, and she helped raise awareness and sympathy for those suffering with industrial diseases by sharing her story.
- Although she was instrumental to fighting for change and for worker’s rights, I don’t think that she will be remembered for the next hundred years. I find that even now, her story has been overlooked. That’s one of the reasons why I chose to do her for eminent.
- What obstacles has / did this person face during their rise to eminence? How did they overcome or deal with these obstacles? What are their wants and fears?
- The biggest obstacle that Catherine Donahue faced was her health. She had been periodically exposed to high amounts of radium for the duration of the time she worked manufacturing glow-in-the-dark watches. This lead to her developing jaw necrosis, and eventually succumbing to the effects of radium. During the court case, she struggled with her illness; she feinted and had to be carried out of the court room to be revived.
- Why is this person worth researching, remembering, and teaching your peers and community about?
- Catherine Donahue is worth remembering because her story teaches us the importance of persistence, as well as why we should stand up for ourselves and question authority when it seems to be putting us in harm’s way. If Catherine Donahue hadn’t questioned the information that she was given on the safety of radium, she, like many of her colleges, would have attributed her symptoms to rheumatism, thus not finding the justice she deserved. Her story is important because she fought for justice for herself and her coworkers; her efforts resulted in a change in how American industry is regulated.
- If part of a large field of study, why choose this person over others in this field?
- I chose Grace Donahue over the other Radium Girls for two reasons: she won a substantially large settlement in court as opposed to settling outside court, and there was a substantial amount of publicity around her at the time. Both of these factors, the settlement and the publicity, gave her actions a larger reach- a bigger ‘dent’ if you will.
What wisdom might we ‘take away’ from a study of this person?
- One “wise nugget” that we can take away from Catherine Donahue is that no matter someone’s physical ability, they can make a change in the world. Catherine Donahue, as a result of the radium poisoning, was unable to even take care of herself. But, with the help and support of others, she was able to sue the company that she worked for, get compensation for her illness, and set a precedent for workers everywhere.
One place where a “single story” is frequently perpetuated is the media, especially in news stories, where we only have a single perspective: the editor, who has the power to warp and twist perspectives and selectively choose stories. What news stations show us can hugely impact how we see a country, or a people; the news is a huge source for us to gain information and form opinions. Unfortunately, a lot of the news we hear and read is “bad” news: Stories of imbalances, of corruption, of violence, of poverty. Why? Because news companies are a business; and they rely on consumers to stay in business. We are entranced by these negative stories. As a result, we’ve become consumers to negative, harmful media. This focus harms the people who the news is about, whether Indigenous peoples or Africans. This imbalance “robs people of dignity”, says author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.” When we allow our perceptions to be controlled by a “single story” we no longer see these groups as people, as equals. That’s why it’s important to question and be critical of the media. There simply aren’t enough perspectives in mainstream media to maintain the different narratives needed for anything close to a full understanding of different cultures. Media often profits from a perceived sense of disparity and difference, creating these views with a constant stream of negative content. To challenge the idea of a single story, we need to question this difference. We’re all human, and not allowing a wedge to drive us apart will allow us to help each other and gain a deeper understanding of our different struggles, cultures, and beliefs. Challenging the stereotype of the single story allows us to restore a sense of dignity and humanity in those who have been victimized by the media.
Some interesting things that I came across while writing this:
The World According to the Guardian: Countries Proportional to the Prevalence of News Articles About Them (note how big the United States are)
Something that impressed me in the novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick, and specifically this scene was Rick Deckard’s quick thinking and intuition. This scene also revealed that Deckard was quite jealous and vindictive. He is envious of the Rosen Association’s “special relationship with Sidney’s”, which allowed them to get the animal price catalogue a good two days early, so he confiscates it. He wants their money and power, and most importantly their owl, which is a species that was believed to be extinct. Rick Deckard fears that the current test for detecting androids that he has is not accurate. He is led to believe that the person he is testing isn’t an android, although the test says she is. The conflict he is facing is between government and corporations. He represents the government. They want to maintain order by bringing in escaped androids. The corporation wants to do “a good job […] at protecting their products”, meaning that they want to prevent the government from being able to detect the differences between humans and androids.
Rick Deckard isn’t a realistic character, because some parts of his personality have been blown to cartoonish levels of proportion; this includes his ego. A direct result of this is he is overly jealous and vindictive. Also, Mr. Deckard’s actions reflect past attitudes that people have held about women, namely that they are inferior, and I disagree with those views. In the beginning of the book, Rick Deckard programs Iran’s mood organ to ‘pleased acknowledgement of husband’s superior wisdom in all matters”. This idea that her husband is inherently wiser is not one that is true. I think that this reflected the author’s beliefs, but I think that women should’ve play a more active role in this book.
One motivation for Rick Deckard is jealousy, and this is reflected in all people. We tend to covet other’s belongings, which has only been exasperated with the rise of consumerism. Rick Deckard is jealous of his neighbors, who have “real” animals as opposed to electric ones. I think that I’m more jealous of others’ traits, like their intellect or their athleticism. Both our wants drive us and can sometimes dictate how we act. I think that overall, I would have handled the conflicts in a very similar matter, with a few changes in how I treat others. I wouldn’t have told my neighbor about my electric sheep, and I wouldn’t have taken the new Sidney’s catalogue. I think the differences in our actions would be because I am less confrontational than Deckard.