Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron book cover
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Give two examples of handicaps fitted onto the characters in "Harrison Bergeron". What is the purpose of the handicaps?

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The society in "Harrison Bergeron" is one that celebrates mediocrity and punishes individuality and superiority in any form. A person who is superior to others in some way is fitted with "handicaps" to make him or her average or even less than average when compared to others.

Harrison, for example, is exceedingly handsome and strong. His handicaps, therefore, address these superior individual traits. He is forced to shave his eyebrows and wear a clown nose, ugly glasses, and black caps to cover his teeth. He also wears a harness that holds 300 pounds of scrap metal to offset his strength.

The ballerina in the story is exceedingly beautiful, so she is forced to wear a "hideous" mask to cover her beauty. Because she is also strong and graceful, she also wears "handicap bags" full of weights. Her bags are "as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men," which implies how very strong and graceful she really is.

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