Examples Of Handicaps In Harrison Bergeron

1455 Words6 Pages

In Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”, society is envisioned to have finally become equal. Through the use of mandatory handicaps, the citizens of this futuristic America are forced to limit their skills to the same level as those with sub-par abilities. Despite this, the titular character is portrayed as being practically immune to this government strategy. The seven-foot tall fourteen year old is so dangerous that he was removed from his home and placed in custody. Later in the story, however, Harrison blazes into the forefront for a nonsensical display of his superhuman abilities, only then to be killed by Diana Moon Glampers, Handicapper General, with a single bullet from her shotgun. This event sparks a question: Why introduce Harrison as …show more content…

Even though society under the Handicapper General is meant to be fully equal, the handicaps that are issued only serve to highlight the differences between the citizens. The handicaps are visual spectacles that are meant to hide peoples’ strengths, but instead they show exactly where some people are better than others, and by how much. For example, George is in possession of an ear radio that is supposed to make him of equal intelligence to his wife. The fact that he is smarter than her is shown through his handicap, much like how it is easy to tell that “two of the eight ballerinas” are smarter than the other six because they winced when their ear radios went off (8). Similarly, the reader is made aware of how much stronger George is than Hazel through how she remains unburdened while he has to wear “forty-seven pounds of birdshot, which was padlocked around [his] neck” (9). Even Hazel recognizes the fact that she is less strong than her husband because she tells him, “Go on and rest the bag for a little while. I don’t care if you’re not equal to me for a while” (9). She knows that if he takes off his handicaps, he is again superior to her in terms of abilities, which is not true equality because if they were truly equal, Hazel would not know that she is less smart and strong than George. In order to lend more proof to this theory, Harrison’s appearance is unrealistically exaggerated. In an attempt to “offset his good looks”, he is required to wear a “red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random” (11). The government tries to make Harrison unappealing through these facial oddities, but they actually prove that he is good looking enough for them to have to go through all this extra effort to make him equal. Similarly, his “tremendous pair of earphones”, “spectacles with thick wavy lenses”, and outfit of

Open Document