Remember after 9/11, when the Towers had fallen, the Pentagon attacked, flight 93 crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Do you remember those days? Americans banded together to unite, regardless of faith. It could easily have gone the other way, though. That’s what makes The Handmaid’s Tale so frightening.
Ten years after the attacks on our country, we have the Christian Right calling for a return to Christian Values without fully understanding what they mean. They are calling for a return to the strict adherence to the Bible.
In Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, she imagines America as it could be in a worst case scenaria. Women stripped of their rights, no longer allowed to own property; no longer allowed to read; no longer allowed to think. Abortions are now illegal because life begins at conception. If a wife cannot conceive, she gets a “Handmaid” who is essentially her husband’s concubine on the woman’s most fertile nights. If the Handmaid cannot conceive, she is reassigned. If she is reassigned enough, she will eventually be sent away to the Colonies which is as good as a death sentence.
The narrator of the story, “Offred” tells us her story, of how she came to be a Handmaid, and how the country came to this after a terrorist attack, how women are worse than second class citizens. She, at times, comes off as desperate and whiny, other times as strong and heroic: the perfect blend of a tragic character.
The only downside to this book is that it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the narrator and the dialogue as Ms. Atwood does not use quotation marks, but this is forgivable as it is an excellent story, and it was her literary right to do so.
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