Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Chapters. 3-7

atwood

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.

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6 thoughts on “Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Chapters. 3-7

  1. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to get indepth. The Japanese scene is interesting to, especially when they ask the maids if they are happy. It reminds me of seeing the Omish in PA. Also, I can’t figure out what the hell is going on. I know there is some kind of war going on in other parts of the country but it sounds almost like its the frontier type wars, not anything hi-tech. I’ll post more this weekend.

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  2. Can you figure out what time period it is and what group started it?Even though society has the religious rule, it doesn’t seem like it was started by a religious group. I started reading it over because I know I missed some points while reading with children squabbling around me or asking me to perform tasks for them like fix them a meal.

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  3. I think it is the late 1980’s. Offred talks about her mother’s time the 50’s and 60’s and her school and college days of the 70’s and 80’s. She is now 33 years old. I cheated and looked at the back of the book just for a second. It is like a hundred years later. As if her tale was found and a class is studying it or something. I do not know yet who started the war, but it looks like religion was the main cause. Everyone talks about sex as if it is so bad and it was the destruction of the world, yet the whole book is about sex. </></>Have you gotten to the part where they took her daughter away from her? She is remembering and she was trying to run away holding on to the child but she could not run fast enough. You know this probably worked well in the late 80’s and the 90’s during the time this book was very popular, but I think now that the internet has exploded it would be harder for information to not get around. I think where she is currently living in the New York region. Something she said, I cannot remember. But she did mention the children of Ham were being exported to the Chicago area. Who are the children of Ham? Black people? Or were they the children of Cain. I do not know the Bible.

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  4. For some reason I didn’t think AIDS was so prevalent then, probably because I need to pick up a book and stop watching VH1’s I love the 80’s for my history.It’s interesting how the handmaid’s are basically ‘the other woman’ and are allowed to live in the house as long as the rules are followed. I also thought it amusing that the men weren’t infertile only the women. I think this is why they get rid of the handmaid’s after a certain time period (I think 3 years) so the men aren’t reminded of their failure even though they blame it on the women.I’ve got to check on the children of Ham. I don’t know the bible well either.

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  5. I always thought that the book was vaguely in the ’80’s as well – and I heard some critic note that it took place in Cambridge MA, and that the Salvaging took place at Harvard Stadium, which is across the river in the Allston section of Boston.What always freaks me out about the book is that I can actually envision a physical takeover of Congress by Christian theocrats, and I can envision the mass of Americans simply looking up and yawning. The fact is that the epilogue of the book has a group of male professors talking about the newly-discovered tapes some number of years later, talking in the most derogatory terms about Offred – this implies that our current attitudes towards women in the workplace might be fleeting, especially in the face of a major crisis. And let’s face facts, boys and girls – crises can be manufactured.The book has always smelled to me like a denunciation of not Christianity as a whole, and not necessarily that of some obscure sect… but a denunciation of all fundamentalist thought.

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