Author Archives: Anoop

What happens next?

Immediately upon finishing the last sections of The Handmaid’s Tale, I wanted to know what happens next. Offred leaves with the strangers led by Nick but there is no explanation where she is going. She doesn’t know either. From what she can tell she is going to be punished for going out with the Commander and Serena Joy finding the outfit she wore. I found it quite odd that both the Commander and Serena Joy were shocked when she was being led out by the strangers. Reading through you would expect them to call them as they did to Ofglen before she killed herself.

I was slightly confused to as what was happening to Janine. I wasn’t sure if she was pretending to have a mental illness to get out of the Red Center, or she actually “lost it” from losing several children to miscarriages. It seemed as if the Aunts and the Wives were looking “down on her” or at least that’s the vibe I got.

I think the Commander and Offred’s relationship also took a weird turn after she and Nick got involved. She definitely admitted to herself that she cannot replace Luke, but she also knows that she may not ever see him again. After she became involved with Nick I believe the Commander took almost a “backseat”, only with suggestions from Ofglen to gather information from him. I wasn’t surprised at all when Offred went out with the Commander against all rules because she wanted to break the monotony of living at the Red Center every day. This historical notes states that the center is probably named the “Rachel and Leah Re-education Center” (305).

The public Salvaging was shocking but I found the Particicution really crazy. It was probably set up this way so the Aunts could show the Handmaids what could happen to them if they broke the rules or did anything else that was forbidden. I couldn’t really figure out why Ofglen got in trouble, but I suppose it could have been when she mentioned the political involvement in the man who was salvaged by the handmaids. “He wasn’t a rapist at all, he was a political. He was one of ours. I knocked him out.” (260) Ofglen said to Offred about the man. Perhaps someone had overhead and reported it, which may indicate that said salvaging may have been politically motivated and not criminally motivated after all.

All in all I found it a pretty enjoyable story but I was disappointed in the end to not know what the ultimate outcome would have been for Offred. It could have been ultimately leading up to her death or Nick’s “friends” may have come to save her. I also think clearly we didn’t get the entire story, or accurately through Offred’s perspective as throughout she admits that some parts are fabricated or left some of the good events out.

 

Human emotion

Although Offred seems to be gaining more self confidence in the current situation she is in, I’m surprised that she also seems to be accepting the fact that she never may leave the center. During the beginning of the book, she was expecting Luke to save her, or break her out any minute and was constantly dreaming about it, but not suddenly she has accepted that this is where she belongs now. “But that’s where I am, there’s no escaping it. Tim’es a trap. I’m caught in it. I must forget about my secret name and all ways back. My name is Offred now, and here is where I live.” (143) She is acknowledging that her previous life is irrelevant and should not be considered anymore which I think is strange since I think even in such a situation she would have a little hope for something good to happen. Maybe the rumor of drugs in the food is possible and the women are persuaded into thinking in such a way.

Offred also seems to find a weakness in the commander or tries to manipulate him. The commander wanted to see Offred in private which was extremely unusual since she was a handmaid, yet all the suspense portrayed was humorously for nothing as the Commander wanted to play scrabble with her. Since the handmaids were forbidden to read or write, I’m sure Offred enjoyed playing scrabble, although she was probably rather confused. Offred gave off the vibe that she was “getting comfortable”, but I think this could be very dangerous since she is a handmaid and the consequences that pertain to her. She contemplates the consequences and does realize that this could possibly be, “it could be a passport, it could be my downfall.” (144). “I think I could get some of that, he said, as if indulging in a chil’d wish for bubble gum. But she might smell it on you.” (159) The commander said to Offred when she asked for hand/face lotion which was prohibited. This shows the commander knows as well what he is doing is risky and considered “wrong,” but yet he still goes through with it. He continues also on page 184, offering Offred many times of magazines and novels to read at her choosing which was strictly prohibited for handmaids.

Restrictions

Upon reading Parts III-VIII, it was clear to me how restrictive women’s lives were in the current situation. The handmaid’s were not permitted to read at all, which would drastically change one’s perspective on viewing everyday things. To read was forbidden, and during the ceremony the handmaids were permitted to watch the news when Serena turned on the TV. In such conditions, I wouldn’t doubt if everything depicted on the TV was either fake or skewed in such a way to alter the way the women at the center think. Offred also briefly mentioned the possibility of drugs in the food, which I believe could explain the very small amount of people trying to “break out.”

It becomes more clear that women, especially handmaids are just looked upon as “tools” and not people equally as everyone else. What confuses me is the fact that Offred vaguely says that she chose this decision or life, and now she has to live with it until Luke can save her. Such restrictions she has “agreed” to completely control all aspects of her current life. She states that, “–songs are not sung anymore in public, especially the ones that use words like free. They are considered too dangerous.” (54) This shows that she has no real power over even her own decisions at the center. The situation with Janine also shows how skewed everyones perceptions are at the center. Janine may have quite possibly been the victim, but the Aunts made sure she blamed it on her self, as did everyone else. The handmaids changed “Her fault, her fault, her fault.” (72) They seem to do much chanting of ideas or beliefs that must be burned into their minds. Janine eventually says, “it was my own fault, I led them on. I deserved the pain.” (72) I believe many conflicts are solved like this at the center.

I find the small flashbacks or memories Offred has to be interesting. Small items, such as remember that a desk had an armwrest for students to write on, the accidental showing of signs with text on the TV, and face lotion all had small connections to her past. Now, handmaids are not permitted to write or read so she always gets reminded about memories in her past when she gets the opportunity to read/write. Any man who she comes into even the slightest non-customary attention of also seems to remind her of her husband Luke.

Restricted

Upon reading the introduction to The Handmade’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, I was a little confused to the situation described but I learned that it is about the protagonist “Offred.” The introduction itself seems to be written from Atwood’s perspective, but the story itself so far looks to be first-person from the un-named handmaid.

I found it really surprising that the society of Gilead changed signs’ text to pictures instead. Although not everyone may understand the language being presented, people may perceive pictures in a different way and mistake things so I’m not sure what was the intent here. I think it could be possibly a law in their society. The laws may include something about color, or it may be a societal norm at the time, since red seems to come up frequently with the handmaids as well as black frequently with the Guardians and the Commanders.

The laws also must restrict the information they get from “the outside world” as well since the main character stated, “I’m ravenous for news, any kind of news; even if its false news, it must mean something. (20) On the same page, she mentions that some of the Guardians are “Eyes Incognito.” This shows that maybe the handmaids aren’t trusted by the authority at the time. The main character states, “It is through a field of such valid objects that I must pick my way, every day and in every way. I put a lot of effort into making such distinctions. I need to make them. I need to be very clear, in my own mind.”(33) I think in current society where most decisions are already made or are restricted for handmaids, she wants to have her own free will and make her own decisions as best as she possibly can. Ofglen, the other handmaid she was paired off with, said nothing to the suspected Eye incognito interpreter at the market. I got the impression that Ofglen may have much more information and experience in the current society than the main character.

The main character repeatedly mentions Luke, who must have been her husband. Up to now in the story, not much is said about her husband besides the him being gone. Could it have possibly been the laws about the handmaids’ that had anything to do with that? The main character reminisces longingly about the freedoms she had before, simple things that were overlooked but everyone longed for in the current state of society. She said, “Such freedom now seems almost weightless” (24). With all the restrictions on her life currently, I would agree.

Don’t take things for granted

Introduction

It’s quite easy to take some of our most valuable possessions and services for granted when even thinking about losing this is hard for us to imagine. Basic things such as electricity, cell phone service, emergency medical / police services and access to food are things we all admittedly take for granted. In Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, all of these services are not only non existent, but some of the younger generation have not even experienced any of it. Imagine having to thoroughly explain yourself because they didn’t believe the concept of electricity or say WiFi.

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In the novel, it’s shown that the younger children must be taught about the concepts of flight, electricity, and other concepts that we overlook every day because we already see them as a normal thing. Devices such as cell phones, laptops and the like are definitely something we take for granted everyday. Mentioned in the story, “–larger machines that opened up like books and had screens that hadn’t always been dark, the insides brimming with circuitry, and these machines were the portals into a worldwide network.”(262) No one really questions how these devices we have work, but it would definitely have a great impact on civilization now if all of these devices just stopped working altogether. Having to have scouts, who then have to report to each other by walking face to face is a drastic difference from today, where we have the leisure of cell phones or the internet to relay information.

 

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Proper and available medical services are also something we may take for granted. “I trained as a paramedic, before the flu. I apprenticed t o a doctor near here for five years, till he decided to move further south. I’ve picked up what I can.” (271), Jeevan stated to the couple that came to him for help. When we are injured, we immediately just think to call 911 so someone you trust is a doctor will eventually treat you. In the story, the couple had to hear from word of mouth, then seek out Jeevan, who was not even technically a doctor. Most of us would also be very uneasy about the fact of being administered moonshine as an anesthetic.

 

Reflection

I decided to write about the services, possessions, and maybe even privileges that had disappeared in the story that we may take for granted everyday. I’m working on an outline to better organize my ideas, as well as accurately back claims with quotes from the book. I do need to find more quotes to further support my argument, as well as comparing and contrasting situations in the book with some situations that may have happened in history already.

Regrowth

Upon finishing Station Eleven by Emily St John, I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed the ending. The way the author constantly kept switching between the past and the present finally stopped throwing me off. The contrast of the past and future in the storyline shows how we may take many things for granted such as electricity, which Kirsten was fascinated about because she remembered so little of it. The sense of amazement she felt towards the end when Clark showed her the lights in the distance must have been unimaginable. Although not directly stated, Clark must have also felt almost a sense of relief, because many years back he didn’t believe Elizabeth when she kept repeating that things will eventually get better. “Clark could think of absolutely nothing to say.” (247), was his usual response to Elizabeth. Not only physical things, but things such as societal norms and cultures also dwindled or died because of the surviving population having to adapt to survive by any means necessary, even if it broke social “norms.”

I do agree with the reasons why the truck driver in McKinley was against teaching about pre-collapse, I do believe it was a necessity. Without the new generation which was born into the post-collapse world learning about all the technology and societal advancements, any possible advancement after the collapse would not have been possible. Jeevan’s wife Daria states, “I think I’d want my kid to know. All that knowledge, those incredible things we had.” (270). I believe without the new generation learning any of this knowledge, the area with lights Clark shows Kirsten may not have existed. All of the items Clark collected for his museum are foreign objects to all of the younger people there. We use almost all the “artifacts” collected on a daily basis and it’s hard to imagine a life without them.

Although I don’t think Clark was to blame for Elizabeth’s mental deterioration in the airport, I do think that Clark should have helped a little bit since he was feeling withdrawn much of the time. Clark also had an agreement with Dolores saying, “she’d promised to tell him if he began showing signs of having lost his mind, and vice versa.” (249) I think if he made such an agreement with her, he should have been open with Elizabeth since he was close with her as well. Maybe in such case the whole scenario with the prophet would not have happened at all, although I noticed it is tying many things together. I would not blame Elizabeth entirely either, since such a dramatic event unfolding for a long period of time definitely took a toll on her mental health, as well as Tyler’s when the joined the religious cult.

 

Deterioration

Parts 4 5 and 6 from Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel show how t hings can fall apart extremely quickly, even when people try their hardest. After the girl was found stowed away in the caravans, the Symphony was at a crossroads. Should they go back and return the girl? Would it be moral since she was assigned to be the prophets next wife? They had a long standing rule of not letting strangers join or continue with them although it seems they will make an exception with the child. 

The Symphony took great care when sleeping with multiple teams of lookouts and scouts to protect themselves from danger. Even with all this added protection, Dieter, Sayid, and the clarinet player still managed to disappear. This makes me wonder if they got kidnapped, or did they possibly leave on their own will? I couldn’t really think of anything that would want to make anyone leave, unless they were tired of traveling which was mentioned. If someone had left, they would have needed a destination to go to, or they probably would not have survived. The note found from the Clarinet also made me curious on the reasons of their disappearances and if they were indeed not being hunted at all. The symphony couldn’t figure out when exactly the clarinet player had written the note. Both of the the disappearances seemed suspicious since they were both with one other person at the time. “Dear friends, I find myself immeasurably weary and I have gone to rest in the forest.” (140) The symphony perceived this as a possibly suicide note but I think if it was written recently she may have decided to leave the symphony. Since the symphony has a “separation protocol”, it is assumed that everyone will meet up at their destination, including August and Kirsten after they were separated from the symphony while fishing. Their destination ended up being the Museum of Civilization since they believe Charlie and the others went there after St. Deborah’s.

I thought Kristen and August’s reaction to entering a un-ransacked house pretty amazing. After grabbing most essentials around the house, they looked for things of interest such as poetry and Kirsten looking for Dr. Eleven. Kirsten Stated, “It was incredible. I almost wanted to lock the door behind us.” (199) I think this quote really gives the reader a quick glimpse of what they have been through since the collapse. They brought up a good point while inside of the house, the child had died in one room and the parents had both died in a separate room. 

Part 5 gave me a good glimpse of life before the collapse. Arthur seems to have used acting as almost a “crutch” when he felt uncomfortable. Jeevan and Frank (Jeevan’s brother who was paralyzed) were stockaded in Franks apartment for quite some time. During another excerpt from an interview with Kirsten, the glass paperweight with a cloud in it is mentioned again so I think it may have even more significance later on in the text.

Class notes 10/12/17

Class notes for October 12, 2017

Science Fiction

Recap on discussion about utopias/dystopias with examples from “The City of Omelas” and Station Eleven.

Science fiction as a genre

Watched video discussing the genre


Brainstorming adjectives for Science Fiction

exaggerate possible/unreal creativity(nature) technology fantasy protest (existence/future)
predictions speculative design* present change

*speculative design – a design used not only to create things, but ideas as well.
(final four texts are in the speculative genre)

“based on science, but it isn’t real”

Came from the author’s imagination. Things might not be real but they could possibly happen.

Science fiction commonly involves the interplay between the real world and the science fiction text. The military’s weaponry has been influenced by science fiction. Science fiction may sometimes be considered a “low brow” genre of fiction.

Science fiction usually plays by the rules of our real world. Based on science not magic.
Ex – If someone goes invisible in a science fiction text, the cause is most likely science, not magic or sorcery etc.

steampunk – science fiction genre where our modern technology is introduced into the past. 

extrapolation – taking something and pushing it to it’s logical extreme

Discussion on Station Eleven and how it relates to the previous discussion.

The flu epidemic is not “unthinkable” as humanity has had had widespread disease kill millions of people, although not to the extent depicted in the text.

Parts and chapters are structured to give us views of the post-collapse as well as pre-collapse.

Emily St. John Mandel insists that rather than Station Eleven being science fiction, it is literary fiction.

Analysis of John Gast’s painting “American Progress”

  • depicts development
  • “manifest destiny”
  • possible angel, central figure – symbolic of angelic dressings
  • weather is split in half in the direction the central figure is moving
  • shows multiple types of transportation
  • expansion into the unknown

***Homework***

Read Parts 4-6. Blog due on Monday 10/16
Class discussion response #5 extended to Friday 10/13

***Extra Credit***

Attend the science fiction symposium at city tech on Dec 6th and post a blog about it.

A dim future

Initially upon beginning to read Part 2 of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, I was a little confused on where the plot picked up off from Part 1. I understood that many of the people who saw Arthur die, or came to pay respects to him died shortly after the Flu started spreading. At first I thought they were performing a play or an act about the “collapse” of society after the outbreak, but then quickly realized that they were a nomadic symphony around 20 years later. The picture I formed in my head after this realization was the setting of any recent “end of the world” or “zombie apocalypse” movie. I found it quite odd that not much else is revealed in specifics about the Flu until further into the reading. Although not a very large number of people survived, I was still slightly surprised that technology had come to almost a stand still in the post infection time. Many things are described in parts 2 and 3 such as the traveling symphony’s relationships with each other as well as parts of their pasts.

I think my favorite part in these sections of the reading would have to be the situation around the St Deborah community. My first impressions when they arrived were that they would perform and at least somewhat enjoy staying in the area for the few days as planned. I did find that the grave markers they discovered for their not dead yet friends was odd though. They performed for the community successfully and let the prophet speak after their performance. The conductor was feeling uncomfortable during his speech, and after some quiet talk between the two, the conductor instantly decided that they had to leave immediately. The conductor referred to the community as “a doomsday cult” (62). I thought it was a crazy plot twist when the conductor revealed what the prophet had told him quietly after the performance in St Deborah. I knew some of the symphony members felt slightly uncomfortable when they saw the armed guards around the gas station. As they were leaving, a little boy called out, “You have permission to leave?” (63). He explained how if people left without permission, they would have funerals for them. This explains what probably happened to Charlie, Jeremy, and Annabel.

Part 3 helped clarify information about Arthur’s past that wasn’t explained in Part 1. It’s revealed that Arthur goes to Toronto for school, but quickly decides that he doesn’t want to continue with his planned major, and takes up acting lessons instead. He eventually ends up continuously getting small time roles finally landing him in Hollywood. Arthur meets an Artist while working in Hollywood who is writing a graphic comic called Station Eleven. She finds comfort in Arthur I believe, unlike her boyfriend so she eventually ends up with him, although further down the line Arthur has an affair. I believe the fame quickly got to Arthur’s head.

The Storm

Immediately upon reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, the reader is introduced to a few characters. A brief introduction into chapter one would be about a play several of the characters are in. The first few pages are focused mostly on the character Arthur Leander. Arthur seemed to have died from what was likely to be a heart attack while acting on stage in a play. An indicator that it was likely a heart attack would be the quote, “He cradled his hand to his chest like a broken bird” (Mandel, Page 1).

Jeevan Chaudhary, presumably Arthur’s friend, had ran to the stage to the surprise of security and the audience when he saw that there was clearly something wrong with Arthur. Upon reaching the stage, he caught Arthur just as he was falling over. Around then is when everyone on stage, including Jeevan realized that Arthur’s heart was not beating, so Jeevan began administering CPR. The text surrounding this scene depicted a grim picture. “The plastic snow was still falling. The security men had receded. The lights changed, the blues and whites of the snowstorm replaced by a fluorescent glare that seemed yellow in comparison” (Mandel, Page 2) sets a cold mood for the scene. A cardiologist from the audience named Walter Jacobi also entered the stage to tend to Arthur, but it was clear that he would not be able to do anything. When the medics arrived, Arthur was officially pronounced dead at 9:14pm.

Jeevan leaves the theatre and walks around the city for quite some time and reflects on many things. The experience he had trying to revive Arthur with CPR had convinced him he wanted to be a paramedic after several different career changes. He is interrupted when his close friend, Hua calls him informing him about a sickness at his hospital. Hua explains how a flight from Moscow carried many passengers that were sick. He explains how there is a new epidemic, the Georgia Flu that is spreading very quickly. He advises Jeevan to leave the city, or to stockpile food and stay in his apartment. Hua explains how an employee at the hospital has gotten sick only a few hours after treating a patient with the sickness and how urgent it is Jeevan leaves. Laura seemed to think Jeevan was being paranoid, as did the clerk at the grocery store. Jeevan instead of going home, went to his brother’s house with a stockpile of food and water and told Laura to leave the city because of the threat. Laura did not take him seriously and thought he was being very paranoid, or was having a panic attack.