Harrison Bergeron Themes, Symbols, and Motifs
The handicaps are assigned to people who go above the threshold of “normal”, according to the government. The handicaps perpetuate the idea of “sameness”, and those who don’t conform to this ideal are punished severely by the government. The handicaps provide a certain feeling of safety, where people no longer have to compete, think, or feel, allowing the government to remain in control.
The ballerinas are assigned handicaps, including the use of masks to hide their differences. George watches the ballerinas and it comes to him that perhaps they shouldn’t be handicapped… they are so clumsy and hindered by their handicaps, that George’s mind instinctively understands something isn’t right. Before such a treasonous thought can take hold, he is interrupted by his radio transmitter noise. His moment of free thought is suppressed by those in charge.
It is the propaganda machine of the government, who use the opportunity to paint Harrison’s abilities as a danger to the population. Hazel, after watching her son’s murder on live television, is unable to remember why she is so upset. She is confused by the darkened screen, and knows that something she saw on the TV was sad. She doesn’t seem to grasp that what she witnessed was a real experience, displaying the control that the TV has over her life and mind.
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