What are the handicaps in "Harrison Bergeron"?

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The handicaps in "Harrison Bergeron" are earphones tuned to government transmitters, bags filled with birdshot, pieces of scrap metal, hideous masks, eyeglasses with thick lenses, rubber balls that are worn over noses, and black tooth caps. People with above-average qualities are forced to wear these handicaps by law.

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In "Harrison Bergeron," everyone must wear handicaps to ensure equality for all. The text tells us that the year is 2081, and the Constitution has been amended to protect the happiness of the masses.

Accordingly, those who possess above-average intelligence, strength, and beauty must wear handicapping devices to...

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mask their physical and mental gifts. And according to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments, such individuals must wear their handicaps at all times.

In the story, Harrison's father, George, must wear an earphone tuned to a government transmitter. When he thinks intelligent thoughts, the transmitter sends out jarring sounds to accost his ears and distract his attention. Intelligent thoughts are absolutely forbidden in this dystopian version of the United States.

George must also wear forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag. The bag is padlocked to his neck, and the consequences for taking out any of the lead balls are high. A missing lead ball will result in a fine of two thousand dollars and two years in prison.

Meanwhile, owing to his considerable physical and mental gifts, his son Harrison must wear a thick rubber ball over his nose, massive earphones, and thick eyeglasses that make him half-blind and give him headaches. He must also wear black tooth caps over some of his teeth and carry 300 pounds of scrap metal on his person.

Meanwhile, the ballerina must wear a hideous mask to cover her breathtaking beauty. All in all, the handicaps contribute nothing to true equality and instead serve as instruments of torture.

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Based upon the narrative of "Harrison Bergeron," what are some modern day "handicaps"?

In Kurt Vonnegut's short story Harrison Bergeron, Vonnegut makes certain allowances in order to make everyone equal. Some of the examples from his text are

weights to stunt speed and strength; masks, red rubber clown noses, or thick glasses to hide good looks and to make seeing difficult; and radio transmitters implanted in the ears of intelligent people, which emit sharp noises two or three times a minute to prevent sustained thought.

While Vonnegut offered simplistic "devices" to normalize humanity, one could examine the modern day to find similar "devices" which make people more equal (based upon their handicaps).

1. Prosthetic limbs- The use of prosthetic limbs provide those with physical handicaps (missing limbs) the ability to resume "normal" lives. People missing legs can use a prosthetic to walk and run (something which they could not do without it).

2. Make-up- Women use make-up to do one thing: make herself more attractive to others. Her handicap, according to her own understanding, is that she is more attractive with make-up than without. The use of make-up, therefore, brings the level of attractiveness of the woman up to that of her peers.

3. Hearing devices- People use hearing devices in order to raise their ability to hear other people (their handicap being hearing loss). These devices allow the wearer to hear the same way as those who do not require the device.

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