What are three ways the society in the story makes its citizens equal? 

What are three ways the society in the story makes its citizens equal?

 

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liesljohnson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We can actually interpret this issue in two ways, both of which help us understand the world in which this short story takes place.

First, we can describe the strategies or methods by which the society forces its citizens to be equal. The society in the story accomplishes this forced equality by passing constitutional amendments, by creating a governmental authority figure called the "United States Handicapper General," and by policing the public with agents of that Handicapper General. Personal handicapping devices are imposed on the citizens, devices that interrupt people's thinking, distort their voices, prevent the free motion of their bodies, and hide their physical appearances. For example, George's thinking is interrupted by a device that plays loud sounds in his head, and the ballerina's face is obscured by a mask.

Alternatively, we can describe the specific aspects of human diversity that the society erases, like intelligence, beauty, and strength. That is, they make everyone equally dumb, equally ugly, and equally weak. George's mental handicapping device in his ear interrupts his thinking, which stops him from processing ideas too deeply or for too long. The ballerina's mask prevents anyone from seeing how "blindingly beautiful" she actually is. And the weights strapped to Harrison's body prevent him from using his natural physical strength.

Read the study guide:
Harrison Bergeron

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