What is individuality in "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut?

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Blaze Bergstrom eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Kurt Vonnegut portrays a society in which individuality is a serious threat to general social well-being. While people in this future society acknowledge that there are individuals, every difference from the norm is perceived as unfair and therefore threatening. Each person must be "handicapped"—modified appropriately to suppress their individual features.

Differences in individuality are shown in Hazel and George Bergeron, a married couple. Hazel is of average intelligence and requires no adjustment. George’s "intelligence was way above normal," so he "had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times." The transmitter sends out signals to mess with his brain, "to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage."

Individuality in the society is suppressed in artists as well. While performing, ballet dancers all wear handicaps to keep them equal so they cannot actually leap about. This is intended to keep others from feeling bad if they...

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