In "Harrison Bergeron," what would the penalty be if George attempted to lighten the load of the handicap bag locked around his neck by removing one or more of the lead balls?

In the short story "Harrison Bergeron," the penalty for George attempting to lighten the load of his handicap bag would be two years in prison and a $2,000 fine for each lead ball he removed.

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Hazel suggests that George should take out just a few balls from the bag of birdshot weighing forty-seven pounds, which is padlocked round his neck. George grimly replies that the penalty for doing this would be two years in prison and a $2,000 fine for each lead ball he removed. This, he points out, is not exactly a bargain.

Two interesting points that arise from this discussion are the draconian punishment and George's acquiescence in, and even defense of, the law. The punishment for removing just a few balls is so harsh that the inhabitants of this dystopia might well think that it would be more worthwhile to rebel completely, as Harrison does, than to try lightening their load a little. Perhaps the only reason they do not think of this is that the government handicaps do not permit the more intelligent among them to think for more than twenty seconds at a time.

The second point is that George hotly defends this tyranny, saying that "we'd be right back to the dark ages again" if people were allowed to make even minor modifications to their handicaps. This demonstrates the way in which tyranny is often perpetuated by the reinforcement and approval of its victims, foreshadowing the failure of Harrison's rebellion, which fails to make any impression even on his parents.

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