Harrison Bergeron Handicaps

What handicaps does Harrison wear?

Harrison Bergeron wears handicaps including huge earphones, which transmit distracting sounds into his ears, spectacles with thick lenses, a red rubber ball on his nose, black caps on his teeth, and three hundred pounds of metal weights hanging all over his body.

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Harrison Bergeron is forced to wear a number of handicaps to draw him down to the general level of mediocrity that passes for equality in the dystopian society in which he lives.

Because Harrison is a tall, good-looking guy, he's required to wear handicaps that make him look shorter and uglier than he actually is. To that end, he's forced to wear a large, unsightly pair of glasses expressly designed to blind him and give him headaches.

His handsome features are also marred by the presence of a big red clown nose that makes him look utterly ridiculous as well as ugly. For good measure, Harrison is required to wear black caps on his teeth and have his eyebrows shaved off.

As Harrison is such a tall young man, he's not allowed to tower over everyone else, as this would violate the government's policy of complete "equality." So he's forced to put on three hundred pounds of metal to weigh him down.

Like his father, Harrison is a highly intelligent man, which is a no-no in this radically egalitarian society where everyone's expected to be dull and stupid, the better to be controlled by the government. In order to prevent him from thinking, Harrison must wear large headphones that regularly emit loud noises that make it impossible to concentrate.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 19, 2021
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The handicaps worn by Harrison Bergeron are exceptionally severe, as befits his superior intelligence, strength, beauty, and other qualities. These handicaps include the following:

  • a huge pair of earphones, transmitting distracting sounds into his ears
  • spectacles with thick lenses, intended not only to obscure his vision but to give him headaches
  • a red rubber ball over his nose
  • uneven black caps over his white teeth
  • a mass of metal weights, amounting to about three hundred pounds, which hang at random all over his body

In addition to wearing these items, Harrison also has his eyebrows shaved. These handicaps are much greater than those warn by others. For instance, Harrison's father, George, has to carry weight amounting to forty seven pounds in the form of a bag of birdshot, and he has a small radio transmitter sending distracting noises into his head. Despite all of this, Harrison is described by the television broadcast that warns of his escape as "under-handicapped." This proves to be accurate when he is able to tear away his handicaps easily upon reaching the television studio. The reader is left wondering, however, how a protagonist who is described as a genius, and who at this point in the story is unencumbered by any mental handicap, fails to take into account the rather obvious possibility that he might be shot.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 19, 2021
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In Kurt Vonnegut's short story "Harrison Bergeron," the title character is the most handicapped person in a society that seeks to equalize everyone by handicapping those who have greater abilities. 

The following quote from the story describes the handicaps he has received from the "handicapper general." 

The rest of Harrison's appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever born heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances father than the H-G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick, wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides. 

Scrap metal hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.

Harrison Bergeron also had to wear a red rubber nose, keep his eyebrows shaved, and wear black caps on his teeth at "snaggle tooth random." This was to cover up his unfair attractiveness.

Harrison was an incredible threat to this society. Not only was he athletic and strong, he was also extremely intelligent and good-looking. For these reasons, he bore more handicaps than anyone else. 

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Harrison is weighted down by many handicaps:Instead of wearing the normal earpiece for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones.  He also wore glasses that were thick and wavy and intended to make him half blind and give him a massive headache.  There was also scrap metal draping off him and weighing 300 pounds in its load.  In his appearance, besides the ones mentioned in the above two answers, they kept his eyebrows shaved off.

Source:  The Language of Literature Book by McDougal Littell

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Harrison's handicaps include thick, wavy-lens spectacles; a red rubber clown nose; and snaggle-tooth black caps for his teeth, three hundred pounds of handicaps.

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Harrison Bergeron, the protagonist of the story, has exceptional intelligence, height, strength and beauty, and as a result he has to bear enormous handicaps. These include distracting noises, three hundred pounds of excess weight, eyeglasses to give him headaches and cosmetic changes to make him ugly.

Despite these societal handicaps, he is able to invade a TV station and declare himself emperor. As he strips himself of his handicaps, then dances with a ballerina whose handicaps he has also discarded, both are shot dead by the Handicapper General. The story is framed by an additional perspective from Bergeron's parents, who are watching TV but cannot concentrate enough to remember the incident.

For more information on the novel, characters, and themes, please visit the eNotes link below.

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