In "Harrison Bergeron," how does the United States government in 2081 ensure that all people are the same?

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One of the main challenges that the government faces in "Harrison Bergeron" is that people are born so different from each other in a society that values uniformity.

Ironically, to ensure that sameness, some people must stand out in leadership roles. Chief among them is the Handicapper General....

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One of the main challenges that the government faces in "Harrison Bergeron" is that people are born so different from each other in a society that values uniformity.

Ironically, to ensure that sameness, some people must stand out in leadership roles. Chief among them is the Handicapper General. The "handicap" is the primary way of promoting the equality of ability and intelligence.

Some handicaps are physical and exterior. Beautiful faces are covered with masks. The ballet dancers must have weights attached to their limbs so they do not jump and soar to the heights.

Other handicaps are attached to or implanted in the person's brain. Harrison's father, George, was born with high intelligence but he is not supposed to use it as that would be an unfair advantage. Whenever he thinks too deeply, his handicap mental radio sends him painful sharp transmissions.

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In Kurt Vonnegut's story Harrison Bergeron, the U.S. government in 2081 enforces full equality by "handicapping" everyone who possesses physical strength, intelligence, talent, beauty, or any other exceptional traits. Every person is reduced to the level of the least talented person so that it is impossible for anyone to be any better than anyone else. For example, Harrison's father George has a handicap in his ears to restrict his natural intelligence; it emits loud and unpleasant noises to interrupt his train of thought regularly, so that he is incapable of accessing his intelligence. His mother Hazel, on the other hand, is of "average" intelligence, so she is naturally only capable of focusing and thinking very briefly. George and Hazel, while they have very different levels of intelligence, are made equal in their ability to think by the government-mandated restrictions placed upon George.

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