What might the shedding of Harrison's handicaps be symbolic of?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Harrison's breaking free of his handicaps symbolizes a moment of liberation. In Harrison's world, the Handicapper General is in charge of bringing all of the talented people down to the level of people with average abilities. On one hand, this policy does protect less talented people from feeling inadequate and establishes a kind of equality. On the other hand, all it really does is suppress the ability of some and offers no hope of improving, strengthening, or enlightening the weaker and less talented people. So, when Harrison liberates himself, he does so in defiance of such a policy. It is a statement that symbolizes freedom and individuality for those who have been hindered by handicaps as well.

The only drawback is that Harrison makes this statement in a completely selfish way. 

"I am the Emperor!" cried Harrison. "Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!" He stamped his foot and the studio shook. "Even as I stand here" he bellowed, "crippled, hobbled, sickened—I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!"

One could argue that he is trying to present himself as an inspiration to others. If they too could shed their handicaps, what might they become? But his statements seem to be all about his own abilities. So, while shedding the handicaps does symbolize freedom and individuality, Harrison's presentation also invokes notions of selfishness and narcissism. And while his liberating moment supports the freedom of the strong, it says nothing about supporting the weak.