What is the meaning of The photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again in Harrison Bergeron?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kurt Vonnegut's science fiction short story "Harrison Bergeron" is set in the year 2081, a year in which everyone has been forcibly equalized.  In order to ensure that its citizens remain equal, handicaps are compulsory for those who have more talent, more athleticism, more intelligence. 

A virtual superman, Harrison Bergeron is seven feet tall.  He wears the heaviest handicaps of his society:  a red rubber ball for a nose, a huge pair of earphones, spectacles with wavy lenses that not only prohibit his sight, but also give him headaches.  Harrison looks "like a walking junkyard" with his three hundred pounds of handicaps. So, when the seven-footer breaks out of prison and then crashes into the television station where his photograph has been flashed upon the screen from different angles, his weight with the handicaps is so heavy that the photograph of him jumps "again and again as though dancing to the tune of an earthquake." 

That Harrison causes the ground to shake is evinced by Vonnegut's having written, 

George Bergeron correctly identified the earthquake, and well he might have--for many was the time his own home had danced to the same crashing tune.

Just then, George's thought is cut off by the brain waves that he is sent so that he will not be doing something that others cannot.

Read the study guide:
Harrison Bergeron

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