Why does the author have the Handicapper General defeat and kill Harrison in the story?

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rmhope | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In "Harrison Bergeron" Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., creates a dystopian society that is devoted to equality. Rather than raising the less gifted people to the level of the gifted ones, which was probably beyond the capability of the society, it lowers the gifted people to the level of the "average," but actually least gifted, members of the society. Obviously under such a regime certain people would rebel, wanting to use their abilities to achieve the highest level they were capable of. It's a given of dystopian societies that they must maintain strict control to enforce their rules on all members. Therefore, the society inflicts the harshest penalties on minor infractions. For every ball of birdshot George removed from the canvas bag around his neck, he would be fined $2000 and sentenced to two years in prison.

Harrison is a rebel in the society. Despite the society's efforts to force him into submission, "he had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up." When he demonstrates complete defiance on broadcast television, the dystopian society, in the personage of Diana Moon Glampers, Handicapper General, must pull out all the stops to eradicate the threat. As George and Hazel have previously discussed, society would "fall all apart" the very "minute people start cheating on laws." Harrison was going to show people how to "become what I can become," and that was the exact opposite of what they were creating in their society. For the dystopian society Vonnegut created to be consistent with its principles, it had to enforce the ultimate penalty on Harrison, who presented the ultimate threat to their philosophy. 

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