Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman Questions and Answers
by Harlan Ellison

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What cultural ideas are represented by the Harlequin in the story "Repent, harlequin! Said the Ticktockman"?

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The Harlequin represents the individualist, the non-conformist, the trouble-maker who defies the rigid conventions of society, and in doing so, exposes their manifest absurdity.

A cursory glance at any great social movement in history, whether it's the civil rights movement or the campaign for women's suffrage, will show us that it is such people who make change happen. The Harlequin's motivations may not be quite so noble as those dedicated to radical social change, but he does have an effect all the same. Anyone who can make the Ticktockman three minutes late has achieved a remarkable victory, even if it's nothing more than a baby step on the road to long-term change in this regimented society.

The Harlequin may not see himself as such, but in exposing...

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