What is the shedding of Harrison's handicaps symbolic of?

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In the world of Harrison Bergeron, the government has made every attempt to make every person equal.  Personal strengths and personal assets are diminished through the use of the handicaps.  Because Harrison is a gifted athlete -- very strong and fast, as well as being very smart, he has many handicaps added to his physical self so that he can't be smarter, stronger, or faster than anyone else.  When he breaks through the buzzing in his ear that disturbs his thought processes he realizes the ridiculousness of the handicapping system.  His shedding of the handicaps is symbolic of his becoming true to himself and his abilities. The theme of story is that while all men and can and should be treated equally, it is not possible for all people to be perfectly equal.  Every person has their strengths and weaknesses and that is what makes life interesting.  The diversity of people's strengths and interests is what makes society function in its most productive way.  While handicapping people may make some people feel better about themselves (no one is prettier, no one is smarter etc.), it destroys the human potential of each person.  Without potential, the human race will never progress and achieve new advancements.  When Harrison sheds the handicaps he is attempting to reclaim his humanity and his individuality -- the things that make him unique! 

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