I was wrong about the name Offred. Perhaps it may still be symbolic for something but after reading pg. 26, we see that all the Handmaids are named of-someone, as in perhaps their commander’s first name. Of as in part of something. I like to speculate a lot and many of my thoughts are proven red herrings to the plot, but I like the created anticipation whether I am right or not.
Ofglen is Offred’s partner she walks into town with, and Ofwarren is the pregnant handmaid. All the handmaids reaction to Ofwarren pregnancy creates the first community tension of the book. The other handmaids are very hostile, calling her a “Showoff.”
The need for human contact remains a vein that is running through each chapter. Offred eyes the chauffer risking herself, she contemplates touching one of the Guardian’s face, and even though she could care less what Ofglen talks about she is “ravenous for news, any kind of news: even if it’s false news” (pg. 20).
There are areas that I cannot wait to get reconciled, like how can the situation be what it is but the Japanese tourists are so free with their exposure. I would think it would be like an American woman visiting Afghanistan during the Taliban, she would have to submit to their rules for women, even though she is not from there. However, the Japanese do not.
What at first seemed like a criticism of Christianity as a whole, now is beginning to look like a very obscure sect of Christianity. We know that one of the enemies of the Republic of Gilead is the “Baptists.” Yet we do know they are Christian because the commander’s wife is Serena Joy, of the old Growing Souls Gospel Hour that told Bible Stories. Also all the jobs have Christian like names, —Guardians and Angels.
Another tension is introduced when the two handmaids get to “The Wall.” Abortion doctors are hanging dead after a day of Men’s Salvaging. We probably can speculate what Salvaging means, but I suspect we will see one unfold in all of its glory.
I almost got choke up on pg. 33 when Offred allowed herself to hope, “What I feel is partly relief, because none of these men is Luke. Luke wasn’t a doctor. Isn’t.”
Nice. Just one contraction, “isn’t”, illustrates so much.
The Eye can be anywhere and anyone can be the Eye.
This following passage reminded me of Homer’s wife Penelope in The Odyssey:
“Sometimes I think these scarves aren’t sent to the Angels at all, but unraveled and turned back into balls of yarn, to be knitted again in their turn” (pg. 13).
Even though Penelope unraveled her work because she was stalling the suitors, it still reminded of it, as if the commander’s wife is stalling to avoid accepting her reality. Nevertheless, in both situations, they are relying on and having to deal with their husband’s actions.
Apparently, Atwood was influenced by The Odyssey as well. I was appalled when the maids were hung after they had to clean up the blood of the dead suitors. A few months ago Margaret Atwood’s book The Penelopiad was released. It is a tale told from Penelope and the twelve maid’s point of view. I thought it was doubly cruel to make the maids witness the murders, clean it all up, and then still get hung, while the suitors were able to bravely fight for their lives. It is as if the women are punished more severely when unfaithful than men are.
The Handmaid’s Tale is getting a little scary. I even thought about putting the book down, but I must go through with it.
What do you think? What would you like to discuss? This is how I have to pick it apart when I don’t know the plot. You can probably tell I read most books twice. A quick read to get the plot over with, then a read to pick up all the tasty nuggets that makes the book great.