Why did Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, use a double-barrelled ten-gauge shot-gun, not another one, in "Harrison Bergeron"?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" is a futuristic tale in which everyone is supposed to be the same.  Anyone with special talents and gifts is given handicaps to counterbalance those abilities.  As the opening lines say:

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else.

One young man, Harrison Bergeron, towered above everyone else, despite his many handicaps.  At the end of the story, when Harrison dances with an equally free and talented ballerina in a display of creativity, freedom, and individuality, they

reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun. They leaped like deer on the moon. The studio ceiling was thirty feet high, but each leap brought the dancers nearer to it. It became their obvious intention to kiss the ceiling. They kissed it.

As the room was in awe and as this young, talented couple broke all the rules of equality, in walked the Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers.  With a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun, she shot each of them, and all were equal again. 

This particular gun is used under several conditions:  large, short-range targets, generally in the air rather than on the ground.  That suits all the conditions here:  Harrison was an extraordinarily large young man, they were a mere thirty feet above her, and they were in the air. 

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Harrison Bergeron

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