In Kurt Vonnegut’s story, “Harrison Bergeron,” everyone is made equal by the United States Handicapper Genera1 while the country is under totalitarian control. Handicaps are forced upon the people by the Handicapper General to create an all-equal society. The character George Bergeron is forced to stay equal by the government’s laws of equality while his wife, Hazel Bergeron, is of only average intelligence, and consequently not given a handicap. Their son, however, has broken the laws of equality and is fugitive of the United States Handicapper General. The conflict between the United States Handicapper General and the Bergeron family helps to establish and develop the theme of a false perception of equality.
George and Hazel Bergeron help to establish the theme of the false perception of equality in the society: “George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear” (1200). The handicap radio sends sharp noises ever few minutes to break his thought process. This handicap stops George from having an advantage over anyone in intelligence. George is also forced to wear a handicap bag around his neck to make him weaker: “She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George’s neck” (1201). In the eyes of the society these handicaps make him equal. His wife Hazel, however, does not have a handicap that she is forced to wear: “Having no mental handicap herself” she is already average, so there is no need for a physical or mental handicap (1200). The story explains this, “Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts” (1200). Hazel and George are a clear example of wh...
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...he ballerina, the musicians, and Harrison all have the desire to break free of the government’s false perception of equality, for they acted out of accordance when given the opportunity without fear of punishment
In the story the government has created an all-equal system in order to control society and to stop any chance of revolt. The government has clearly succeeded in their goal of brainwashing Hazel and George into believing in the system of equality even when it clearly has major flaws. Vonnegut’s point to the story is that Harrison has fallen short of the government’s accord causing chaos and proving that an all-equal system exists only for totalitarian control. The irony is that the gifted individuals are given handicaps and the average people are left free of any constraints, and the truth is, that within the equal society inequality is the sovereign.
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