Consider the characters of Hazel and George. Why isn't Hazel handicapped? How does George seem to feel about his handicaps?
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Hazel is "of perfectly average intelligence." Honestly, Hazel is less than average and does not have the brains to question the handicaps. She is of no threat to the government and the way things are going. George, on the other hand, is bright enough to know that the handicaps are unfair and are ruining society. He, however, can't think a thought long enough to express that or remember that he was trying to.
Hazel and George Bergeron represent the typical American couple watching television together in the evening. Hazel wears no handicaps because she possesses "normal" intelligence, appearance, and strength. however, in Vonnegut's dark future, ‘‘normal’’ has become the lowest common denominator. It implies that one is incompetent, or unable to fathom anything beyond that which is superficial.
Harrison's father, on the other hand, bears multiple government-imposed handicaps which repress his ‘‘way above-normal’’ intelligence. George wears birdshot weights and a mental handicap radio in his ear that receives a "sharp noise'' transmission designed "to keep people ... from taking unfair advantage of their brains.'' He refuses to remove any of them, however, for he believes that any attempt to change the present situation will inevitably cause civilization to regress back into the ‘‘dark ages,’’ when there was competition. Thus, he is a willing participant in the government's attempt to control its population.
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