Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am on the right way with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following brief excerpt from the O.Henry’s “A Cosmopolite in a Caffe”?
"Excuse me," said he, "but that's a question I never like to hear asked. What does it matter where a man is from? Is it fair to judge a man by his post-office address? Why, I've seen Kentuckians who hated whiskey, Virginians who weren't descended from Pocahontas, Indianians who hadn't written a novel, Mexicans who didn't wear velvet trousers with silver dollars sewed along the seams, funny Englishmen, spendthrift Yankees, cold-blooded Southerners, narrow-minded Westerners, and New Yorkers who were too busy to stop for an hour on the street to watch a one-armed grocer's clerk do up cranberries in paper bags. Let a man be a man and don't handicap him with the label of any section."
I know the meaning of “handicap” = “to cause to be at a disadvantage; impede” but in my humble opinion there is a better verb in the present case in my native language namely “burden”, encumber”.
encumber (v) = to hinder or impede the action or performance of
Thank you for your efforts.
Well, O'Henry must have preferred "handicap" since I'm sure he was familiar with "encumber". Perhaps the choice has somethig to do with the character who is doing the speaking.