George Bergeron, Harrison's father, wears a device that makes noises in George's ears. The purpose of the device is to prevent George from being able to maintain thought for an extended period. George has been deemed smarter than average, so he has to have a handicap that prevents him from using his intelligence. The radios that people like George have to wear are tuned to a government transmitter that sends out noises about every 20 seconds. The ear radio makes sporadic noises in George's ears disrupting his thought processes. The story speaks to several major themes, including mediocrity as the desired norm. The people in the story's society are all forced into sameness. If they are better looking than average, they must wear masks to hide their beauty. If they are more graceful or athletic than average, they wear weights to make them awkward. And if they are smarter than average, like George and his son, Harrison, they must wear ear transmitters to keep them from thinking and using their intelligence.