in the story Harrison Bergeron how is each character shaped by what he/she says?

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kcoleman2016 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Hazel

Hazel is a sweet, uncomplicated woman who easily accepts what people tell her as true. Much of her speech is punctuated by repetition and by colloquial or childlike language, such as her first line: "That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did" (Vonnegut). She is, overwhelmingly at times, upbeat, most likely because of the simple pleasure she finds in an easy and uncomplicated life. She says simple things like, "I'd have chimes on Sunday - just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion," and, "Boy, that was a doozy, wasn't it?" in response to George's crippling handicaps (Vonnegut). Her character's dedication to a "nice" life is perhaps best captured by one of her final lines, after George finds her crying and advises her to forget sad things: "I always do" (Vonnegut). 

George:

George is more intelligent than Hazel, but is crippled by his handicaps, so much so to the point that he cannot maintain a single stream of thought. However, George firmly believes that his handicaps are for the good of society. When Hazel suggests that he cheat and take out a few of the lead balls weighing him down, he firmly says, "If I tried to get away with it [...] then other people'd get away with it - and pretty soon we'd be right back in the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else" (Vonnegut). George believes that the good of many is worth the sacrifice of the few - himself. 

Harrison:

Harrison embodies the angst and non-conformity of many teenagers across societies - his just happens to be majestic. He fully rejects his society's dictum that all people have to be the same, instead claiming that he is in fact the best of all: "I am the Emperor! [...] Even as I stand here [...] crippled, hobbled, sickened - I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I become!" (Vonnegut). It is with this line that Harrison reveals his body and mind without handicaps, in fact becoming his declaration, for in a land where everyone is brought down to the same level, he is now the indisputably the best. 

The Ballerina/The Empress

The Ballerina barely speaks, and of more import than what she says is how she says it. When she begins her announcement, she has to apologize for her beautiful voice and begin again, this time speaking in a "grackle squawk" (Vonnegut). Society makes her feel shame for her body and voice, and she accepts this shame until someone comes along to free her - Harrison. She is a tragically underdeveloped character. 

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