The tone for much of the story before Harrison's appearance is somber, sardonic, and even fatalistic. Equality is portrayed as an established reality, the tone so insistent that we are immediately suspicious of its sanctimonious certitude.
The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
Yet, when Harrison appears on the screen, the tone becomes animated, anticipatory, and even defiant. The earlier passive tone becomes overshadowed, and the new tone produces a brighter, more hopeful mood.
Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.
Harrison's scrap-iron handicaps crashed to the floor.
Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.
He flung away his rubber-ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.
The once helpless Harrison becomes a sensational figure of dissent. His rebellion is executed at a frenzied pace. He and his partner leap into the air, simultaneously abandoning the "laws of the land" and the laws of gravity and motion. The tone, although changed, invites our skeptical reaction. We are led to question how long this euphoric state can last.
The dancers leap almost thirty feet high, skimming the studio ceiling as they do so. Then, hovering in midair, both lean in for a prolonged, passionate kiss. They are brought back to earth when Diana Moon Glampers fires twice from her "double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun." The tone then reverts back to the resigned, somber, and fatalistic one we see at the beginning of the story.