Why was the killing of Harrison Bergeron so significant? Did Harrison have to die for the sake of the society?

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jimbodonahue eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Harrison Bergeron was born strong and beautiful in a world which is defined by weakness, ugliness, and stupidity. In the society's quest for equality, they have chosen to use handicaps and masks to reduce these qualities to the lowest level across the population. This is done to eliminate competition and jealousy.

George presents society's argument in his conversation with Hazel about removing some metal balls from his handicap bag.

If I tried to get away with it, ... then other people'd get away with it-and pretty soon we'd be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn't like that, would you?

In this light, inequality leads to competition, and society would "fall apart."

Harrison Bergeron questions that idea. By removing his handicaps and those of the ballerina, he attempts to subvert the idea of equality that society proposes. Their beauty and grace suggest that inequality is more than competition. This idea completely undermines society, which is completely built around the idea of forced equality.

Bergeron must die because he cannot and will not be handicapped, and he encourages others to remove their restraints. His rebellion is not only a threat to authority, but also a display of the possible advantages to inequality. If one person is better than everyone else, society is no longer equal. Killing him is essential to ensure that everyone remains equal.