Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Halfway through The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale has been on my Goodreads "to read" list for months, maybe even a year. It is Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel about what would happen if the U.S. government was overthrown and women were used as nothing but vehicles for baby creation. It's a chilling science fiction book that reeks of hints of truth and moments of absolute parallel to the world we live in. I'm halfway through the book and I can't put it down -- it's riveting and scary and emotional and everything I love books to be. Every feminist should read this book.

*Spoilers below*

In this book, the protagonist "Offred" is a Handmaid who has been pulled apart from her husband and her child and placed inside a rigid society where her being is completely defined by shame, ritual, religion, and reproduction. She is not allowed to read or talk to other women, she has been stripped of her name and her identity and is placed in a room on her own with the mirrors removed. She has to lay there and be fucked by the Commander of her house while his wife lays behind her, and if she happens to be lucky enough to get pregnant she will hand the child off to the wife after he/she has been born. If she isn't so lucky, she will be cast away as an Unwoman.

Handmaids are mentored by Aunts who attempt to convince them that they were being sluts and shameful terrible women back in the former world, and that absolving themselves by giving themselves entirely to this new society is the way for redemption. These Aunts use manipulative language and religious quotes to convince Handmaids that what they are doing now is honorable, safe, and better than life used to be.

This book looks at class, race, gender, and occupation in a way that they haven't been looked at before. Pardon me, while I get back to reading it....

1 comment:

  1. Love your response to this beautiful piece of literature. Have friended you on Goodreads to follow what else you're reading! Also, where did you find that beautiful rendering of the handmaid at the top? Gorgeous!