Censorship - Language Arts- Connect

Exploring Methods of Censorship and Their Effects

The following two short stories will assist students in understanding the multiple methods of censorship and their effects: “The Censors” by Luisa Valenzuela and “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

  1. “The Censors” (Los censores) by Luisa Valenzuela centers on Juan, who initially takes a job with the government’s censorship office in order to intercept a letter he mailed.
  2. Read the story in class with the students and engage in a discussion using the following questions:

      • In what way were you and your teammates just like Juan when playing the CENSOR game? What were your goals/missions as you played the game and what was Juan’s goal?
      • What was ironic about Juan in the story?
      • What might Juan have been thinking when he was arrested?
      • How did Juan change as he moved up in his job? (Why did Juan keep being promoted in his government job? What qualities allowed him to succeed?)
      • In working for the government, was Juan doing what was moral and just?
      • Did he die for a good cause? Explain your answer with details from the text.
  3. “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut is a dystopian short story in which everyone is made “equal” by suppression and censorship. Assign home reading of “Harrison Bergeron” and completion of the following assignment:
      • Write down the characters’ names (George Bergeron, Hazel Bergeron, Harrison Bergeron, Ballerina, and Handicapper General) on a sheet of paper and list, while reading the story, the methods and ways in which the characters are censored or restricted.
  4. Discuss the students’ homework in the next class by sharing and analyzing all the ways in which the characters were censored and restricted.
  5. Use these guiding questions to engage students in a discussion relating “Harrison Bergeron” to today:
      • Do we (country, community, school, parents, you) censor others for fairness or for equality as well? If so, how, or who is censored? Who is our “Handicapper General”?
      • What is equality?
      • How can restrictions lead to equality?
      • How can restrictions impede equality?
      • What does Harrison teach us?
      • What does the Handicapper General teach us?
      • How does this story change your thoughts about censorship?