Author Archives: Crsoto

Handmaid’s Tale the Series; Differences and Similarities.

After reading¬†The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and upon watching the first two episodes of the adapted series i have to say that there are definitely different approaches that the directors decided to take compared to the novel. The story stays true to some degree while only changing the timeline in some events; for example, On episode 2 Oflgen has been replaced by a new Ofglen, the memories of her trying to escape with Luke and even her time in the red center and memories of Moira are given to us much early on in the show. Ofglen as we should all know was a form of whisperer in the sense that she had some form of network and at the very least pretended like she knew something. Perhaps she did and that was the reason she was replaced. i was surprised to see her memories of everything that had happened to her so soon but i can see that it can allow us the people watching the show, whether we have read the book or not, to become aware of the consequences of rebelling to the authority of Gilead. One vicious scene that showed the people watching the stakes of rebelling was when Ofwarren had said a smart remark towards Aunt Lydia and even giving Aunt Lydia the good old F Bomb, The consequences was to become completely broken and having an eyeball plucked out from her eye socket. Moira is a character that has been so full of life and ready to speak her mind yet she herself is complying to the rules because she understands the stakes. Rebelling can lead to death. These kind of consequences are very similar to the novel. A lot of things can lead to death and i can appreciate that because it can lead to a lot of suspense as we watch these characters struggle to keep their sanity. One surprising difference however was actually the very beginning. The series heavily implies that Luke had died trying to escape but in the novel it still is implied that he died but there were no gunshots fired, in fact Offred is more sure that he is dead in the series while in the novel she has hope that he survived. The scenes where we get to see the commander and Serena Joy are a bit different as well. To begin, Offred meets them basically at the same time while Serena gets her first piece telling Offred ” if she gets trouble she’ll give trouble”. The commander looks fairly young in the series as well not like as if he was in his twenties but the novel certainly makes him appear older than how he was shown in the series. This is clearly an adaptation to appease some type of audience somewhere. I can appreciate their efforts.¬† I also appreciate how certain quotes from the novel are salvaged into the series since some of these quotes are powerful. One of the powerful quotes was when Offred is describing the furniture in her room and the shatterproof glass and how it only opens a little bit, that it is not because they are afraid that the handmaids will run because they will certainly catch them but they don’t want the handmaid’s to take the easy way out with suicide using shattered glass. This to me is so powerful because it tells the viewers that the handmaid’s are definitely valuable yet they don’t care how they feel and that there is no easy way out. Overall as someone who has read the novel and now watching the show i can see the changes made for the series and do appreciate the content given.

Nov. 30 Class Notes

Handmaids tale discussion sheet continued.

Class impressions on the handmaids tale :

  • Bad for it’s unanswered questions yet great to some to leave imagination conclude the story
  • U:nexpected/Jarring for its dehumanized content in the historical notes.

Symposium – Academic conference.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • Tues 12/19 is now the last day of class
  • Watching the series is not required just work on Essay 2 and re-read historical notes.
  • Bring back essay 1 on Tues 12/05
  • Extra credit due on 12/06; SF symposium + blog.

Live Life to it’s Fullest With no Regrets

If i have learned anything after reading the handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood is to live life to it’s fullest with no regrets. Offred is a character that has suffered through much ever since becoming a handmaid like losing Luke, being depraved of most things that women loved, and there is of course the ceremonies where she has to have sexual intercourse with a commander who is well passed his prime and having his wife in the room to make things even worse. Her whole life went from being free being anything she wanted to be to living with hopes that she gets pregnant so that they see usefulness in her. This is a world where breaking rules can equal death, finding other demeaning ways of being used like how they did with Moira or being sent out to the Colonies where people live like gutter rats for the most parts, this may equal death as well. Although Offred had to live as a handmaid where constant rules are being forced upon her she finds ways to break rules and is always taking much delight while breaking these rules. “You expect me to put that on? I say. I know my voice sounds prudish, disapproving. Still there is something attractive in the idea” (Atwood, 230). What Offred is referring to is an outfit that is revealing with feathers i guess you all have an idea, point is this is the type of things that are supposed to be banned but are sold in the black market probably and the Commander has one for her to put on. This is illegal yet as she says there is something attractive in the idea. This goes with her feelings about breaking rules in the past. Sometimes breaking rules can give a person a feeling of power and Offred is a character that loves feeling powerful.

Offred has broken so many rules while being a handmaid, but her latest crime was her ongoing affairs with Nick. The “no strings attached” type of relationship. The plan was to only use Nick to get pregnant because the Commander can’t seem to do it. “I would like to be without shame. I would like to be shameless. I would like to be ignorant. Then I would not know how ignorant I was.” (Atwood, 263). Offred feels shameful for the fact that she had to open her legs yet again to another man. This was illegal but it was planned by the Commanders wife so that Offred can get pregnant but all she could think about was how Serena thought how easy it is for Offred to open up and she even thought about Luke if she knew he was dead for sure would it make any difference. She wanted that ignorance and perhaps she got it because she kept going back to Nick without needing to. She yearned for it. Perhaps it was the breaking of the rules or maybe that she found somebody she can somewhat trust, who is not as old as the Commander that she can enjoy herself with. To that i say repent nothing and live on because you never know when your time might come. The story ended with her being ushered into a black van By Nick and MayDay. This meant that she got discovered and is going to die or that Nick is actually really there to help her. Either way Offred regretted a lot and I definitely do not want to become an Offred who only thinks about the mistakes from the past.

Forbidden Desires

In the Novel¬†The Handmaids Tale, Margaret Atwood foretells a future where women who can reproduce are nothing more than a vessel to, well… reproduce. That is their only purpose. This future is under the scope of a religious yet corrupted society. The Irony. Part 9 through 10 continues with the life of it’s main character Offred.¬†¬†‚ÄúA rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze‚ÄĚ (Atwood 165). This is how Offred feels like as she does her daily duties. This is a very disturbing thought especially with today’s norms. The handmaids are actual people with actual desires but some if not all of these desires are indeed forbidden. Much like when The Commander dangles a magazine filled with models in front of Offred. Magazines like those are forbidden in their society. “There was something Renaissance about the pose, but it was princes I thought of, not coiffed and ringleted maidens. Those candid eyes, shadowed with makeup, yes, but like the eyes of cats, fixed for the pounce”, (Atwood, 157). These are the desires of Offred. The kind of freedom to feel powerful. In her current situation she is not powerful at all. The Commanders wife hates her because she does what the wife cannot do, bear children though Offred has yet to succeed in it herself. I would imagine that Serena, the Commanders wife, does not appreciate that the Commander has to lay with Offred in order to bear children. It could be jealousy. The simple act of someone coming into your territory, unwelcomed, yet she understands the importance of it. This is why during the ceremonies where the Commander lays with Offred and Serena there as well, Serena would inflict pain and discomfort to make sure Offred knows her place. Offred can not fight back because she knows it would mean death. This slowly changes as the Commander confesses that he and Serena have not been the same. He is clearly losing his love for Serena especially with the fact that he keeps calling Offred to these late night meetings which she herself has grown comfort to. These Meetings has gotten her and the Commander closer yet she hates it because of the circumstances between them yet she is loving it at the same time because she hates Serena as well. “I now had power over her, of a kind, although she didn’t know it. And I enjoyed that. Why pretend? I enjoyed it a lot”, (Atwood, 162). Offred is hungry, not the hungry for food but lustful for power. Power is freedom and she craves it ever so much. I am sure anyone would crave power when they are pitted into a future with a low ceiling. It is either you serve your purpose or you are deemed worthless and sent out out he colonies which to many equals death. Forbidden Desires is how I see it, all of Offred’s desires are forbidden, yet she is not wrong at all for wanting more.

Goals

        Sometimes in life one feels like they are stuck and it may be hard to change that. I think the best way to get out of that situation is to find something or a goal and work hard to achieve that goal. This is very true in the novel Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. In this novel the characters are in a probable future where 99% of the population had been killed off by a deadly virus. Even in a world with no laws and no hope people are still living with goals. Not only am I going to mention characters who are in the future that live while working on a goal but. I will also touch on major characters from before the collapse.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†What defines us as human beings are what we have experienced in our lives and what connects ourselves with these experiences are our memories. Coincidentally we have a character in Station Eleven who lives day by day trying to find pieces of her childhood that could possibly bring back memories of her childhood and of the first year of the collapse. This character is Kirsten.‚ÄĚ There were countless things about the pre-collapse world that Kirsten couldn’t remember– her street, her mother’s face, the TV shows that August never stopped talking about– but she did remember Arther Leander, and after that first sighting she went through every magazine she could find in search for him‚ÄĚ(Mandel, 40). Kirsten is living life as she could scavenging food/ Supplies/ and pieces of herself. If it was not for having the goal to find herself she would just be serving but. as we all know ‚ÄĚ survival is insufficient‚ÄĚ(Mandel, 58). This is the motto of Traveling Symphony and it basically means that simply surviving is not enough, you must have something worth working for as you survive and for the Traveling Symphony it was the preservation of the past.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Finding yourself can be a very good goal but simply doing what you love is very admirable in itself. Of course I am talking about Miranda. Miranda was with her boyfriend for years until she got tired of the ways he put her and her hobby down. Her hobby was the graphic novel‚ÄĚ Station Eleven‚ÄĚ. She left her boyfriend and became Authur‚Äôs first wife where he was more supportive. On the contrary though Arthur lived his like wanting attention and he became famous yet he was still unhappy.

Please note this is just a pre. draft and anything is subject to change. This was a bit rushed especially by the second body paragraph so I apologize for not getting a quote but I figured a grade is better than no grade

Because Dying is Insufficient

In the world of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel we have been introduced to time before civilization fell and even to the time before it. In the novel a motto was stated early on that “Because survival is insufficient” (Mandel, 58). The meaning behind this motto is that there must be purpose in life, that just simply surviving and living by the day without goals, hopes, and dreams is not enough to satisfy ones self. Much like the Traveling Symphony that wear this quote on their lead caravan and in their hearts. They don’t just survive, they live valuing what was once good in the world, the old world, and share those values with other survivors in¬† different towns. Much like Clark who had miraculously survived the Goergia Flu and found safe haven in an airport in Severn city where he stayed for two decades. What he lived for beyond just survival was to put the old world on display for those who come from that old world to appreciate what they once had, and for those of no memories of the old world or those that were born in the new world to learn about these past useful tools and possessions. What he had was a museum of Civilization. ” Clark had always been fond of beautiful objects and in his present state of mind, all objects were beautiful. He stood by the case and found himself moved by every object he saw there, by the human enterprise each object had required.” (Mandel, 255). This was his life now it seems to bring him much joy just collecting things but even if its just for him this can also serve the purpose of teaching the youth with hopes of one day mankind can replicate the technological advancement or even beyond that. Even back in the Old World he found himself staring at a bunch of “Sleep walkers” The people that do nothing but stare at their devices all day just getting through life. This problem of living with meaning was existent even before the New World.

Another man with goals was the Prophet. We find out that the Prophet is Arthur and Elizabeth’s son. He grew up in the new world reading texts of revelation, surrounded by faith worshipers of the new world and the new heaven. The Prophet’s goal was to bring light to the world as he utters the words with his men “the fallen walk among us. We must be the light. We are the light.”(Mandel, 291). This light he refers to is only his own belief of what was right and what was wrong. He was only 8 years old when the world fell apart only paying attention to a handheld device like most kids his age in our era do. He did not know that what he was doing was wrong. His light came with suffering, taking towns and taking women for himself and his worshipers. They wanted to repopulate the world. Actually in my opinion he was not wrong with wanting to repopulate the world it was just how he came about it that was so wrong. Even though the Prophet did a lot of wrong he was not simply surviving, he was working towards a goal so great that he can smile at the face of the enemies that he kills and blackmails.

At last our main protagonist Kirsten meets Clark for the first time and he shows her something that would probably change the new world. Miles down south of the airport the stars are dimmed. “In the distance, pinpricks of light arranged into a grid. There, plainly visible on the side of a hill some miles distant: a town, or a village, whose streets were lit up with electricity.” (Mandel, 311). I absolutely lost it when i read this part because i knew what it meant and I immediately thought about the motto “Because survival is insufficient”. Whoever generated the electricity in that town or village not only survived but had a goal to bring light to world so dark and full of despair. The world was so lucky to have a man or woman or even a group of engineers who know about electricity to come in and have electricity surge back into circuits. What could have came about if they died? How many things could have happened if people did not die? How many things could have been achieved if they did not die? These are the things i asked myself as I finished the novel, of course some people deserved to die like the people who tried to attack the Traveling Symphony in their early years when Kirsten joined, or like the Prophet who brought nothing but more despair. I believe that it is important to keep on living with good intentions and that is when you will meet true satisfaction with yourself.

Just Who is the Prophet ?

The story of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel carries and gets more intense through parts 4 through 6. Starting with part 4 We are brought back to year twenty with Kirsten and the traveling Symphony who are now all anxious that their newly met enemy “The Prophet” might be tailing them. “The Symphony walked armed and on full alert, Olivia and Eleanor in the back of the lead caravan for safety.”(Mandel, 127). This is just a small hint that the traveling Symphony were not at ease, though in a 20 year old lawless civilization it makes sense to always be on your toes, still the matter of the fact is that The Prophet might be onto them because the Prophets future wife Eleanor had escaped St. Deborah by hiding in the caravan of Symphony without them noticing. To them it feels like they have a bullet with each of their names on it especially if the Prophet finds Eleanor with them. Although they might be scared or anxious they are still well prepared for the Prophet and his men because of the tactics they are using to keep eachother safe, though as we soon find out it may not be enough. When Symphony sleeps there are always people keeping watch, it was Kirsten and August turn to keep watch, Sayid and Dieter had went ahead to scout the area. As Kirsten and August were having a peaceful shift they heard something rather disturbing. ” There was a sound just then, a disturbance passing over the surface of the night as quickly as a stone dropped into water. A cry, cut off abruptly? Had someone called out”(Mandel, 135). Sayid and Dieter went missing without a single trace. “It was as though Dieter and Sayid had been plucked from the face of the earth”(Mandel, 136). Not only have two members of Symphony been abducted but they also left no trace, we then find out later that Olivia gets abducted as well. They are messing with what appears to be professionals.

The story takes a weird shift between an interview with Kirsten and what happened to jeevan within the first 2 months of The pandemic. We get some clues about the two knife tattoos Kirsten has during the interview with Francois. Francois asks Kirsten about the tattoo but she refuses to tell him about them “You know what tattoos like this mean.”(Mandel, 132). Much like how gang members tattoo tear drops on their face to signify how many people they have killed this could be the same thing. Kirsten is always carrying knives as though they were a preferred weapon so maybe she has killed two people for whatever reason. Maybe her skill with knives can help her out in the future.

Jeevan seemed to have left his brother behind though it would probably be the smartest move even though it sounds messed up. I cant imagine Jeevan trying to survive as he is pushing his brother on a wheelchair for two decades plus.

I wonder if in year 20 Clark and Elizabeth are still alive. By the end of Part 6 we get the revelation that the plane Clark and Elizabeth and her son boarded on to leave for Toronto had to make an emergency landing on Severn City Airport in Michigan. This was before the collapse and one of the last few flights to have been departed. This is stated to be where the Prophet had come from so i wonder if they are tied together somehow. Like what if Clark is the prophet ? Or maybe it the son of Arthur ? I think this brand new mystery will get solved in the next few parts.

Before and After the Collapse

The story of Station 11 by Emily st. John Mandel continues to provide the readers with unexpected situations. The story becomes very dark which compliments the dark tone of the new world after the Georgia Flu epidemic. This time around we started off with the young girl Jeevan met in chapter 1. Her name is Kristen who was only 8 years old at the time but we have fast-forwarded into the future 25 years. Civilization had collapsed and it seems as if the Georgia flu had gone away only after killing off 99.99% of the world with it. Kristen continues to travel with symphony, a group of actors and musicians. They go town to town and perform for the people although it is not said if they get compensated or if they do it because they want to. As she scavenges for supplies she often looks for things specific to her childhood and one of them is station 11. A limited graphic novel given to her by someone she had met. She just wants to keep a certain part of her life bright while everything is so dark, and everything is very dark.

With the world in collapse and not many people are alive foreseen things can happen. It gets all “Walking Dead” where communities in small towns are run by a certain figurehead yet it is possible to get raided by another group or being forced to work for said group. It seems like the town of St. Deborah had gone through this because Symphony had seen the change in management with the unnerve feeling they all get. A prophet who is probably just lying to everyone is running things. This man gives off an eerie chill when he speaks and that is seen when after symphony is done with their performance and the prophet speaks they all get nervous and anxious. The conductor who is essentially the leader of Symphony is not amused by the prophet as she demands to know what happened to the two members of Symphony that was left behind in that town. Graves with their names had been marked but they do not believe that they are dead. The prophet does provide a satisfying answer but proceeds to show his true selfish colors. He gets close to the conductor and whispers to her something profane which the conductor denied. Kristen asks the conductor what he told her and the conductor told Kristen, “He suggested that we consider leaving Alexandra, as a guarantee of future good relations between the Symphony and the town. He said he’s looking for another bride.”(Mandel, Chapter 12). Alexandra is one the members of Symphony, oblivious to things going on around her. This shows how the prophet is just demented or is just drunk on power. Everything the people do in town are according to his needs or ideals. He also wants another bride which shows how the culture has changed to where maybe it was not okay to have multiple wives but now that civilization is collapsed things have changed. Much like Neegan from The Walking Dead, he runs a community, sets up his own rules, and has multiple brides.

The story takes us back to before the collapse following the life of Arthur. The mood is somewhat dark surprisingly when the story is now taking place before the plague. We read as he gets through his first, second and third wife. Through this story line we find out that the author of Station 11 graphic novel is none other than Arthur’s first wife Miranda. She was with her boyfriend Pablo for 8 years until she had gotten bored of him and her life. proceeded to sneak around with Arthur and when Pablo knew she was leaving him he struck her. Arthur took care of Miranda and they then got married and during the point of their third year anniversary Arthur was a very famous man. Unfortunately this was the same day that Miranda found out about the affair that Arthur is having with his then later second wife Elizabeth. Miranda continued living a life of her own traveling for her company spending nights at hotels and occasionally sleeping with her downstairs neighbor but not to date them. The sad part is that she lives on telling herself “I repent nothing”(Mandel, Chapter 15). This is the same thing she told herself while she was sleeping with Arthur while still living with Pablo. She knew it was dishonorable and was guilty. She knew she was too weak but had to tell herself this to remain strong. This makes me wonder if she survived the epidemic or was she too weak for that too.

Forever Useless

Have you ever felt like you failed at something but strangely found that failure to somehow change your whole view of your future ? That is what happened to Jeevan, a paramedic in training who failed to save the life of a man who died of a heart attack. The novel¬†Station 11, by Emily St. John Mandel from chapters 1-6 has been telling the story of Jeevan and then after the incident he had with the man who died. On his way home he had a sudden realization that gave him purpose, “Arthur died, he told himself, you couldn’t save him, there’s nothing to be happy about. But there was, he was exhilarated, because he’d wondered all his life what his profession should be, and now he was certain, absolutely certain that he wanted to be a paramedic.” (Mandel, Chapt 1). In one swoop Jeevan turned this negative situation into a positive outlook on himself in life which would be rare to see considering the ordeal of death that Jeevan had to see. Before this Jeevan had been living an unfulfilling life. Before his latest epiphany he was a bartender and a entertainment paparazzo and he was not contempt with either of those.

With his latest discovery i felt like he would go out in the world and save mankind (not literally), that was until he got a call from his friend. The brand new revelation is that a deadly flu called the “Goergia Flu” had spread wildly throughout the city and anyone can be at risk of catching it. It was at this moment that Jeevan did what any other person who would believe in an epidemic like this would occur would do, and that is flip the freak out. He immediately thought about his loved ones and how he may never see them again. Immediately I thought about how useless his character must feel to not be able to save anyone though Jeevan never stated that was how he felt. Though much like his prior trial he does not give in. He starts stocking up on supplies from the supermarket as the news of the epidemic is spreads. He was lucky to get the news before most people since his friend happens to be a doctor and is one of the doctors attending to the patients with the flu. If you thought that his friend would get sick from working close with these patients you are probably correct since the story seemed to have alluded to that. The story continued and he called his girlfriend, told her to leave town and is now with his brother with all of the stored food that he bought for precaution.

Even though he has a positive outlook on his life right now the narrative still portrays an eerie tone with death looming at any corner in the form of microscopic germs or bacteria. No one is safe as long as they are outside in a city. Living in New York for most of my life i have learned that most of the time u walk outside¬† and you touch something that you are not the first to touch. There are germs everywhere and the Goergia Flu seems to be spreading at a rate that even touching something that someone has touched or even breathing the same air causes people to catch this flu. The interesting part to me is how the story starts off with Jeevan facing something so insignificant compared to what he now is facing. I want to end this blog with this excerpt from chapter 6. “No more pharmaceuticals. No more certainty of surviving a scratch on one’s hand, a cut on a finger while chopping vegetables for dinner, a dog bite.”(Mandela). A scary place is a place of not knowing if you are safe.

 

End of Days

The story of, “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury is a story of a post-apocalyptic environment in the city of Allendale, California in August 4, 2026. In this story there are no people, just a city in ruins with animals and abandoned materials. There is also the setting of where the story took place and it was within a “smart house”, ( a name i decided to give it because i do not know what else to call it). The smart house is extremely futuristic with function built robots that actively do things around the house in clockwork. At a specific time everyday the house sends these robots to do chores a normal person would regularly do. The house was so robotic yet the narrator put so much personification into this, “In the living room the voice clock sang, tick tock, seven o’clock. Time to get up. Time to get up, seven o’clock! As if it were afraid that nobody would.” (Bradbury, 1). I found this line very interesting and it was literally the first line of the story. I found this line interesting because it projected an image of a clock literally singing that it is seven o’clock and it is time to get up also the fact that it said it was like it was scared that nobody would get up which I learned eventually that nobody was even home to wake up.

The reason for the apocalypse to leave a city of ruins is later given to us as a read between the lines type of scenario, “At night the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow that could be seen for miles.” (Bradbury, 1). I feel like the city is in ruins because of pollution or just some other means of the environment finally collapsing, maybe the city even got nuked and the radioactivity remained. Clearly this is the inevitability we humans would have to face if we do not keep the environment clean and if we wage war among ourselves . The city of Allendale in this story left behind nothing but their technology, their perfect homes with nobody to live in it. The other reason i believe it was pollution or just the result of war that left this ruined city the way it did was when a dog was introduced in the story and had just randomly died. Do not get me wrong the dog was described as bony but it was still able to move around and chase its tail. “it ran wildly in circles, biting at its tail, spun in a frenzy, and died.” (Bradbury, 2). This was during the time when the house was making pancakes that filled the house with its odor. The way the dog died can only be explained due to the vicious reaction to the radioactivity of the city that had finally kicked in for the dog.

I think it is crazy how technology can evolve so much yet what worth is it when there is potential for nuclear warfare in a world where everyone is walking on egg shells. How can we enjoy our creations when despair lurks around the corner? At the end of the story a falling tree broke into the house and caused a fire when it landed on the stove which was on because it was that time of the evening to make dinner. Even with the fire procedures the house has built in, it could not put out the fire. Man created this perfect machine yet because of its own destruction it had basically ruined it’s own creation.