Author Archives: Jeffrey Liang

The Commander – The smiling and sad mask

Having finished the last chapters of Margret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and knowing the stance of the Commander on what he got from the republic and Gilead and what he wants in his relationship with Offred left a question mark in my head.

In chapter 32 Offred and the commander spoke a bit and the commander spoke about his reason for helping to create Gilead. This paragraph alone “I’m not talking about sex he, he says. That was part of it, the sex was too easy….. You know what they were complaining about the most? Inability to feel” (210). This line alone left me asking, why? Why did you even bother helping in the creation of Gilead if that was one of your reasons? Throughout the entire novel, we are told that the sole purpose of the handmaid is to bear children. They are stripped of all will, belongings, family, everything and yet the commander says the line ” the sex was too easy” (210). “The inability to feel” (210), what he helped try to fight against is exactly what he got in the end. The relationship between a handmaid and the commander at first was exactly what he was fighting against the inability to in a relationship so he literally got what he wanted and yet he didn’t. The lines “Kissing is forbidden between us. This makes it bearable. One detaches oneself” (95) literally says that she has to remove herself entirely just to endure this process.

The commander’s ideal society and his actions are quite self contradicting, he wants to feel something in a relationship yet takes everything away from the handmaids. They aren’t allowed to read, they are limited in the things that they can do and the handmaids can’t even own anything. If you build a castle on sand it will have a unstable foundation and will eventually fall apart which is the best comparison I can come up with for Offred’s relationship with the commander. Well it is probably more of a one-sided feeling more than anything else to be honest or perhaps he is just ignorant of this as he was earlier in the novel when Offred asks the commander for some hand lotion in the line ” Why, he asked as if he really didn’t know. Maybe he didn’t. It wasn’t the first time he gave evidence of being truly ignorant of the real conditions under which we lived” (159). There isn’t anything in a relationship if the relationship has only one side going for it and the other remaining neutral out of fear. When the commander is further into his relationship with Offred he agrees to the line “You want my life to be bearable to me” (187) and yet before their meeting every other handmaid in Gilead is living a unbearable life compared to the life they once had.

The reasons he gave for creating Gilead left me more questions than answers. Why? Because what he fought to against is exactly what he got in the end. Sex was something that was too readily available? Yea commanders get it all the time now. They don’t feel anything out of it? Guess what they are procreating just for the sake of having kids and nothing else. Would anyone even be able to “feel” anything out of that? If I had actually met someone like this in a place like Gilead without getting killed I would have asked ” Why even bother with this? Sex to readily available? Guess what ignore it, that doesn’t involve you. Want to feel something? Find someone that gives a damn about you”. The reasons that the commander gave makes the creation of Gilead seem pointless.


A moment of the Past

Having read through the latest parts of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaids Tale, the new relationship that Offred that builds throughout the chapters feel like a moment in the past while currently being in the world of Gilead. Knowing that women are nothing more than tools in Gilead, Offred and the commander begin to build a relationship as people normally would in our time, though not exactly the same, they are at least able to speak to each other as people normally.

In Chapter 23 when Offred is first called into the Commander’s office, at first she has “An inner jeering. But it’s panic. The fact is I’m terrified”(137) and knowing her position, she is naturally terrified knowing that at any point in time she can be sent to the colonies which is their version of hell. But, whats surprising is that instead of calling Offred in to do “that”, the first things that the commander does is treat Offred like a person which isn’t seen anywhere in the novel so far. The commander lets Offred know that “You can sit down” (137) and ” I’d like ou to play a game of Scrabble with me” (138).  Both of these actions are treating Offred not as a handmaid but as a person and not just from anyone, but from the commander who has the most power out of every person in the house. Knowing how the handmaids are, when Offred is brought into this new “situation” its kind of like bringing in a child that is brought into the principals office instead of calling a person for a casual conversation. Well, it is how the handmaids are trained to have that kind of mentality since Offred even though she was expecting “something unspeakable, down all fours perhaps, perversions, whips, mutilations? At the very least some minor sexual manipulation” (155).

As the chapters go on Offred and the Commander begin to have a more casual relationship, a relationship that you would expect friends to have. She would request things that a woman would usually use before Gilead became a thing. You would think that, it’s the commander the “leader” would be more strict and heavily enforce the rules of the country that he is living in, but he’s ignoring those rules behind closed doors when he is with Offred. On page 159 when Offred talks about what she uses as a replacement for lotion and hears the commanders response she thinks “I could have slapped him” (159). If she acted how she was when Offred first arrived to this house, that thought wouldn’t have ever crossed her mind knowing how handmaids are trained. It feels like a casual conversation that two people would have on any day of the week though I don’t think it would usually end up with one smacking the other. The way that Offred speaks to the commander is also more casual than formal knowing their status in Gilead; she speaks to him as if she usually would have if she was talking to a friend. The commander uses the words “You can do it. I know you can” (156) like he’s encouraging a friend even though in the republic of Gilead women have a lower status than men. A relationship that people would usually have before Gilead became a thing, between a commander and his handmaid, a casual relationship that is not supposed to be, begins.


A Woman or A Tool?

Having read through the latest chapters of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I get the impression of the handmaid’s being less of a person and more of a tool of use even though they were originally people who had lives that anyone else would’ve had if it were in our world. They were people who had the right to live the life they wanted, until that right was taken away and they were forced to live

In the Republic of Gilead, the women are always exposed to the oppression of women where ever they go, whether its in the homes the are currently staying in to anywhere as far as the eye could see. If something happened to a woman, than the fault falls upon the woman which is made apparent when Aunt Helena throws in her two cents and says ” But whose fault was it? Aunt Helena says , holding up one plump finger” (72) with everyone around going along and repeats “Her fault . She did” (72). The chant that everyone says also encourages this mentality you are now a tool which leads the Janine breaking down mentally. So not only does this encourage breaking people so that they are easier to manipulate, it also encourages people to be do the same and also harass people till they break mentally.

When it comes to Offred, she isn’t any different from the rest of the handmaid’s when it comes to being a once free woman to being a more submissive or “broken” person compared to what she used to be to some degree. When she is going to the commanders office she feels like “A child who’s been summoned, at school, to the principal’s office. What have I done wrong?” (136). Its as if Offred had reverted to a child mentality. Instead of believing that she was called in to the office for a chat or a game, she believes that she got herself into trouble and is being brought in for punishment at first. When she finds out that she was called in for a game of scrabble she thinks ” Now of course it’s something different. Now it’s forbidden, for us. Now it’s dangerous. Now it’s indecent. Now it’s something he can’t do with his wife. Now he’s desirable. Now he’s compromised himself. It’s as if he’s offered me drugs” (138~139). The mentality of being submissive has been hammered into the handmaid’s to the point where things that were once people did for entertainment had become a drug for them.

When everyone was chanting “Her fault” and ” She did” to Janine, the ones that were chanting were actually enjoying the bullying that they were giving to Janine. By doing so not only do they discourage others from being themselves, they also encourage people to do the same whenever someone brings up anything against men. Just like what would happen in a school when there is a bully harassing a student. The bully gets enjoyment out of harassing the student, the people around the bully also enjoy it, but instead of the school punishing the bully for harassing, the school is actually encouraging the bully to do it.

Life in a Cage

In Margret Atwoods The Handmaids’s Tale we are thrown into a world where the lives of people, women specifically has degraded quite significantly compared to how things once were. Life throughout feels as if the handmaids that are living in the novel are living their lives in a cage without any choice in their lives. Even though we learn of what the roles of the handmaids are which is to be a surrogate mother. Though despite being a surrogate mother, their lives are pretty much restricted to the house which they live in where the handmaids are rarely allowed outside and live as a tool instead of a person.

Reading through The Handmaid’s Tale it feels as if the hand maids are living in a prison more . In chapter 1 of the novel the narrator talks about their current living conditions where “Aunt Sara and Aunt Elizabeth patrolled; they had electric cattle prods slung on thongs from their leather belts”(4). The women here are living as prisoners as if they were locked behind a prison for inmates. There are also the so called “Guards” that watch like the guards of a prison that watch for anyone that attempts to escape. Only let out when they are allowed to go out, living in a giant cage which is the gymnasium which they are currently living in. They live on a routine which is very similar to what inmates live on a daily basis. Wake up, get your meal, exercise, etc. Like a bird that is locked behind a cage that is only allowed out when the owner of the bird lets the bird out. Their only way out is walled off with barbed fences and guards to keep them from leaving.

When Offred first arrives to the new home which she is brought to the first thing the wife Serena the wife of the Commander blocks her way into the house and looks down on her as soon as she arrives. Like the guards of a prison that are trying to show the inmates who is in charge Serena is doing the same with Offred in the line “So, your’e the new one she said. She didn’t step aside to let me in, she just stood there in the doorway, blocking the entrance” (13). their interaction in the sitting room is just like a cigarette when you first use it. A brief introduction and when they were done they avoided each other as much as possible.

The only places that they can go are limited at best like a animal locked in a zoo. They can only go to places where they are allowed to go. In the first chapter the only time the women could go out was when they were allowed to go out and walk around the football field only. The only things that they can do are dictated by others without any choices being made by the handmaids. They are used literally as a tool for the sole use of reproduction because the others are unable to.



Many things in life tend to go unappreciated every day. I’m not saying that we are just out right unappreciative of the things that we have. What I meant was that we lose appreciation for the things that we have because it is always there and has always been there for us at every point in life. Living in a world that has come to an end, things that have always been around the characters of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Life in the modern age where things have always been readily available, people tend to forget how difficult things are to get and how valuable it is considering that we see on a daily basis, from people you love, family members, how easy it is to get clean water, food how easy it was to contact friends and family, etc. Some things are truly appreciated when they have lost something that is truly important to them.


One of the most important things for anyone in the world, family and friends, people that have always been with you since childhood and grew up with. One of the many things in life that possibly is one the most people lose appreciation for in anyone’s life because it is something that feels like it has always been there. This is especially true for Arthur Leander where it has reached the point where he “I used her as a repository for my thoughts …. I stopped thinking of her as a human being reading a letter” (211). He no longer saw Victoria as a person, someone that he grew up with. It is the same with the relationships that he once has with each of his ex-wives. As time goes on for almost every person in Arthur’s life, he loses value for all of them.

Body 2

One of the many things that also that don’t get as much appreciation as it should are the things that are around the characters before the collapse. To the people after the collapse the internet is something like a treasure to them especially to Kirsten “none of the members knew much about science … it was maddening given how much time these people had to look up thing son the internet before the world ended” (199~200). The internet is something that the people in station eleven has grown up with. It housed information on basically everything in the world.


First came up with during one of the earlier blog posts which I decided to use for my argumentative essay. After reading through the novel I noticed how little things are appreciated before the collapse of the current civilization in Station Eleven. Still trying to think of something to add to my argument and it’s been a while since I last wrote an argumentative essay. I know some part of this is summarized,


Things Only End If You Let Them

Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven

At the end of another novel it’s got me thinking about how people are in life and the dreams which everyone has. The dreams that every person has since childhood, it is something that one makes happen, not something that just happens on its own.

Near the end of the novel, we learn of what happens to Clark and the rest of the people that are living at the air port in Serven City. While Daria was with Jeevan and Micheal, that friend says the line ” Does it still make sense to teach kids about the way things were?” (269). If any of us were in the same position as anyone else in this story at some point any one of us would probably utter the same line. Having been 20 years since the world ended with everything that has been made with technology becoming entirely unusable. Given the information about how great things were compared to how things were compared to how they are now in the story,it probably would’ve done more bad than good, as Kirstin once said ” the more you remember, the more you’ve lost” (195). The thing is, if everyone had given up on the dream of ever seeing electricity again then they would never see electricity again. Much like any person’s dreams, if you do nothing to achieve that goal than it won’t ever be a thing. Which by the end we learn that the people in Jeevan’s village managed to get power running again, but if everyone had given up on the dream than nobody would have ever seen electricity return ever again.

We also learn about the prophet and how he ended up the way he did. As we read through part 7 we see that Elizabeth’s mental state has already deteriorated from the shock of the world ending, while Tyler is getting heavily influenced by the new testament which he had been reading. Maybe Clark could have pulled the two back from the path which Tyler was going down, but it was already taking everything he had just to stay sane as said in the line ” I should have pulled her back from the edge. But it had taken everything he had to stay back from the edge himself, and what could he have done?” (261). Though he could’ve done something to pull them back from the edge, I couldn’t blame him for not doing much. If any of us were weak willed and saw the world end right before us, it would probably break us mentally. If any of us ever get to a breaking point we’d all probably want someone to help us pull ourselves back from the edge of insanity, friend, family stranger, anyone. Just knowing that someone is there to help you would be something which Elizabeth and Tyler didn’t have. If anyone you know is near the edge of breaking down, give them a shoulder to lean on. That little amount of support lets them know that your at least there for them.


Why do I write? Well the main reason for why I write is because I have to since its homework. Jokes aside I write because  you get to be you, you can write whatever you want, whether it be good or bad. It doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of pressure that is put on every person everyday of their lives, from preparing for SAT’s, getting good grades in college, paying off your bills, trying to figure out what your going to do with your life, getting the money to get by day by day, etc.

Writing for me is a way of letting off steam. You don’t have to put on a “mask” of being like everyone else just so you don’t get judged by everyone around you and it’s something that takes my mind off anything that would possibly give me stress, though my main way of relieving stress is through games.

Writing also leaves behind many ideas which I don’t really think about. If I ever came up with something interesting, I would write it down and just leave it there till I decide to go back and build on it. Writing lets people introduce others into a completely new world which some might have never thought of. Things like the light novels that people enjoy reading like the new gate which caught my interest, rising of the shield hero, which eventually leads to their manga counterparts being released eventually. There are even games which are made based off novels, for example The Witcher games which are amazing in how detailed everything is in the world. Writing lets you take a look into the world that the authors are making in their minds, which always differs from person to person.For me and probably many people writing is a way of putting yourself out there in the world, though not directly linking it to ourselves sometimes, the things people write tend to be reflections of how some people live, or how they see the world, etc. We can be as creative as we want, we can destroy anything that we can imagine, you can create brand new race of creatures, people, anything you want. In a world where we are always chained down by life, in writing you are free to do anything you please with no consequences or anyone to judge you. Well unless someone finds it and reads it themselves

Image result for my world

For what I like about writing, its that I can make whatever I want. In the worlds in which anyone can write, you could add dragons, elves, virtual realities that you can actually interact with, summoned into a different world. Writing can have as many ideas anyone can come up with without being chained down by your life’s responsibilities. Writing lets you be you, with nothing holding you down, no one holding you back, well other than yourself. It also leaves a piece of you behind if anyone wants to leave behind something before they leave this planet. I enjoy the freedom which writing actually gives to me. People will always fight for their freedom, but in the end we are always chained down by something. When I write, I don’t have those same restrictions as I normally would in life. You are free to do whatever you want. I write because I am free to do whatever I want, add whatever I want, destroy what ever I want, I get to do whatever I want without being held back by anything.

Class Notes Tuesday October 17th

Class Notes for Tuesday October 17th

Group Work

In relation to #3, 4, What is the significance of Arthur’s relationship’s backstops

In relation to #5, Discus the novels themes and its evolution as the novel goes on

Narrator – Third person omniscient

View  Points

First Person

3rd Person Omniscient

  • through “Dear V” letters
  • Jeevan’s  attempt to keep his sanity while leaving Toronto

View points are complicated in the novel so the Dear V letters and Jeevan’s thoughts are instances of the first person perspective in a third person narrative

Chapter 37

Raymonde – You don’t know what you’ve lost until it is gone


Check off both category and parts


1) People’s Choice for parts 4 ~ 6 due Wednesday

– Congratulations to Parts 2 ~ 3  winners

2) Optional Extra Credit

– Why I Write Due Sunday 10/22



You don’t know what you have until it’s gone

While reading through parts 4 – 6 of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, the line “You don’t know what you’ve lost until its gone kept running through my mind. We are in a time where we  fail to properly appreciate what we all have right now.

There are many things out there that we take for granted. Even the home that we are currently living in can be. “It was incredible. I almost want to lock the door behind us.” That’s what it would have been like, she realized, living in a house. You would leave and lock the door behind you, and all through the day you would have to carry a key” (pg. 199). There are many out there, myself included that don’t really take great care of our homes. While Kirsten is wandering out in the world without a home, we have the luxury of actually living in a home. We don’t really notice how fortunate we are to actually have a home because it is something that is always there, a place where we could relax and recharge our batteries. We should always take care of ourselves, but we should also take care of the homes we live in, it’s a place where we always return to, a place to relax, where we sleep, where we eat, etc.

“She was thinking about the way she’d always taken for granted that the world had certain people in it, either central to her days or unseen and infrequently thought of. How without any one of these people the world is a subtly but unmistakably altered place” (pg 225). Much like how it is with our homes, the people around us seem as if they are always with us. Much like how it was for Miranda, most people in the world would probably have reacted the same as her whenever they lose someone important to them. My grandmother lost her sister about one or two years ago. After the funeral it got me thinking that my grandmother’s end is coming soon as well. Throughout my entire life she was always there, she was always there to bring me and my cousins home from school, made breakfast, lunch and dinner for us, etc. Thing is, much like how it was for Miranda, I never really noticed because she was always there, but in life things happen on a whim. One day you could be talking to your best friend and the next day they could die of a heart attack and you’ll never see them again. Their end could come tomorrow, the day after, a week, a month, years, you never really know when their time will come. So when you get the time hangout with your friends and family because one day it will come to an end and you will never be able to see them again when it happens.

There are many things that always go unappreciated and taken for granted out there in the world. As a continuation for the part where I talked about valuing those around you, I knew a junior that was back in high school. Few years later I see rip Frank (Not their real name) on their page after a some of my friends in high school posted it and soon after I found out he had a heart attack. He was still an adolescent before he died of a heart attack. Here’s another person that died pretty early that I kinda looked up to, Monty Oum a animator for Roosterteeth died of a severe allergic reaction. Reading through the recent chapters reminded me that our time is limited here on this planet and that the people that are close to you could be here one day and gone the next. Treasure the time that you have with your friends and family because you will never know when your time will come.



Group Influence

Having read through the latest sections of Emily Mandel’s Station Eleven, it makes me wonder how groups effect people and how they act when put in a similar situation to the other characters in the world. With everything in the world which has pretty much regressed back to how life was like in the past when using horse drawn carriages was modern at the time and where groups travel together as a caravan. I believe that the groups that people associate with effect how people act in the long run

The first group that we are introduced to is the Symphony which honestly feels more like a family than a group of random strangers that were just put together as performers. You have the friendship between Kirsten and August where they work together as mentioned in the line ” …. August and Kristen even though they’d only been close friends and had in fact made a secret pact to this effect – friends forever and nothing else – ” (47). The group has its own problems but even though they’ve been through getting shot at, two of the members splitting off because of a child, fighting between the group; they always stuck together

The second group that we are introduced to in the second section of the novel is the community that is in St. Deborah. Reading through section two of the novel, St Deborah kind of  remind me of the short story “The One’s Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. In a sense that instead of a child suffering it was the entire world.  Whenever the prophet had something to say or something to do everyone in the group quiet. In the line “In the back row, another man whom she’d noticed earlier …. stepped forward and raised his hands over his head as he passed through the front row. Thr applause faded” (59) whenever which remind me of how the parents in Omelas. The citizens of Omelas always talked about how the child must remain in for the people of Omelas to be happy and those that represent the child in the novel are the people that in the community that survived the flu. The prophet much like the citizens of Omelas are a big influence on members of their group / community.

Being in a group their ideas tend to influence the people that are in the group so that they can remain in the group and be supported by the group members. Even in video games where you don’t actually see the person that your playing with in person, you band together to achieve a common goal in whatever you are doing. When it comes to the group in st. Deborah everyone in the group is “lead” by the prophet and anyone that didn’t go along with what the prophet said left the town. Even through personal experience I have been part of a group that was very toxic which I didn’t even notice it was effecting me until a friend of mine mentioned it. The group we were in always talked poorly on those that did what they could not whenever they failed and how they were always the group that never cheated for success while still not having succeeded once. Groups play a pretty large role when it comes to how it influences our decisions in life whether we notice it or not.

More info on how groups effect decision making