Author Archives: Heder Pastuizaca

The Handmaid’s Tale: Parts XI-XV & Historical Notes

Finally finished the book, and I have to say, I am really disappointed on how the book ended. There isn’t and closure for the character Offred, does she get terminated or is she put in a different family? Her story is not over and if the author is planning on writing a second book, then I can understand but if this is it then I can’t except this ending. Of course this also leaves the reading with an imagination of what the ending could be, what might have happened to Offred, to NIck, to the commander and his wife. The ending of part fifteen gives us the scene where Offred is lead into the truck that will take Offred away for good, leaving the reader with this quote, “And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.”(295). This quote on its own tells the reader that the character is now heading down into a deep dark place and to expect to suffer afterwards but the last portion seems to explain that not everything is as bad as it seems. That through it all she will find a better place, be it be in the after life or in a new home, in another family or outside this society.

While reading the Historical Notes, I have to say I am surprised to find out that these society actually existed in the US, more specifically in Maine. We get important information about the lifestyle of Americans from the guest speaker and begin to understand how the society really operated and how the handmaid’s became surrogate mothers for married couples, and even before the society took over, the country was already forcing limitations on the female will and also gave them rules to live by and aid couples just like in the old testament.

After reading the last few pages of the Historical notes, my theories were confirmed. Even the people who wrote this book have not a single clue on what happened with the Offred, “As for the ultimate fate of our narrator, it remains obscure. Was she smuggled over the border of Gilead, into what was then Canada, and did she make her way thence to England?” (310). This confirms what everyone has been thinking. Its because of the tapes of the narrator of this book that tells us the story inside the Gilead society. Giving every female their own unique name for each family the join so that the females have no identity and are just used for the need of reproduction.

I enjoyed reading the book, it was getting really interesting and I was looking forward to what might happen next. I especially happy that Offred found some form of love with Nick and that the wife was allowing them to have sex so that she may have a child. It is a bit sad when Offred starts to remember her husband and wonders if he can accept what she is doing. Yet, Offred rejoices in her choice of being with Nick before being taken away and never seeing him again. Seems poetic.

The Handmaid’s Tale: IX-X

After sections nine and ten are read, we get a better picture of the world before Gilead rose and how this structure came into place. We get a picture of Offred’s life before the chaos begins, it is just like our world. Then the attack happened, the president is murdered, congress is killed, and the constitution is taking away. Offred’s privilege’s and actions are limited if not halted, meaning that all females in the society of USA are now banned from owning anything and are dependent on next of kin(male) or husband to take care of any affairs. The first example of this is when Offred is at the local store getting her pack of cigarettes, “It’s not valid, he repeated obstinately. See that red light? Means it’s not valid.” (176). Offred takes the entire day calling the company trying to resolve this issue of why her card isn’t working and soon her boss calls her in along with about nine other females. “We’re being fired? I said. I stood up. But why?”(176), this shows how the society is moving backwards in the novel and is moving back in the direction where all the females had to rely on their husbands or fathers in order to move in life.

Yet, when we look at the time that Offred is spending with the Commander, we can see the old society, before the president, congress and the constitution were killed, comeback in the little moments that they play scramble together. The commander talks with Offred, spends time with her like a human being, and an individual. As time progresses, she begins to enjoy these sessions with the commander but she tells herself something important, “I couldn’t quite define it– for the Commander wasn’t in love with me, I refuse to believe he felt anything for me as extreme as that– what would be left for her?”(161), these are her thoughts as the Ceremony takes place again and this time she is self-conscious about her body and the fact that she her hatred towards Serena Joy has turned into jealousy and guilt for taking about her husband from her, because now she is her own person in this ceremony. The Commander knows it as well, which is why when he reached out his hand towards Offred, she moved her head away, in order not to give away their relationship outside the Ceremony for fear of what might happen to her.

Offred and the Commander continue their meetings and she reads in front of him, they continue to play scramble and she even asks him about the writing in the cupboard in her room. The writing in Latin, “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum“(185) which means “don’t let the bastards grind you down” comes from a book of jokes, however, a handmaid had commited suicide. The handmaid that died also came to these sessions and now the Commander is trying to save Offred from the same fate, even though he is ignorant to the way the handmaid’s are treated, he is trying to find a way to prevent the same tragedy from happening again. All Offred wants is to know what’s going on(188).

The Handmaid’s Tale: Parts III – VIII

After reading the Handmaid’s Tale parts three to eight, in part three: Night, the main character Offred has flashbacks of a time when society wasn’t restricted by rules in which the females are being used for reproduction. She holds the memory of her college days, spending time with her mother and was present when older females were burning dirty magazines. This is the same as Kirsten in Station Eleven and how she holds on to memories of someone special in her life. Offred however seems to be forming some sort of coping mechanism, which we can be found in Chapter 7, page 40, ” I’ll pretend you can hear me. But it’s no good, because I know you can’t”.  It seems that the in her story telling she just hopes for some form of change and the only way for her to keep the dream alive is to live in the past.

But the part off the reading that stands out in this society is the way the women think about each other and how they pressure the new handmaid’s into a form of thinking in which whatever may happen to them, is their own fault. This radical thinking can be pin pointed to a dominate male that is abusive and a control freak that puts all the blame on his partner. In part 5, page seventy-two, we get a glimpse of how society sees gang-rape and abortion in this society. ” Her fault, her fault, her fault, we chant in unison.”, this was directed towards Janine when she tells about her past when she joined the handmaid’s. She bursts in tears when she told the story to all the other females, they called her a crybaby and they meant it. They psychologically changed her afterwards where she begins by saying that it was her fault for leading the men on, and that’s why she was gang-raped. On the same page we see how the other handmaid’s especially Aunt Helena has influenced her and warped her, ” It was my own fault. I led them on. I deserve the pain.”. This is something that shouldn’t be happening and is how the society is able to control these women into adhering to the norm that the society puts up as rules to control them.

We see later that Offred is either having another flashback or daydreaming on page seventy-one in which she says ” I used to think of my body as an instrument, of pleasure, or a means of transportation, or an implement for the accomplishment of my will.” In this quote we see her free will that she had before this society came about and in page seventy-three she goes on to say, “I have failed once again to fulfill the expectations of others, which have become my own.”, giving us the prove we need to understand that she has conformed to the ideology of this new society and is losing her own free will if not has already lost it to her identity as a handmaid.

The Handmaids Tale Parts I and II

The novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, is about a woman in the red that according to the blur in the back of the book, her name is Offred. She is in the “family” of a very wealthy man and her purpose is to be able to produce a child. She also is allowed outside for a short period of time and isn’t allowed to gain any knowledge. So everything she knows is from memories she has from when she was a child and was free to do as she pleased. The novel is centered around the idea of an oppressive society towards women in an era after the 21st century.

Some of these women that become pregnant seem to take pride in the fact they are being used for reproductive reasons only. This can be verified with a character named Janine, “Janine looks at me, then, and around the corners of her mouth there is the trace of a smirk. She glances down to where my own belly lies flat under the red robe, and the wings cover her face.” (Atwood, 27). This woman is still portraying the same type attitude of feeling better than others through the fact that she is with child, while before this time she would boast some new phone or clothes. Since, in this time there isn’t anything like that, this character uses her child as a form of prize to show off to other females.

The reason why the book takes place after the 21st century or at least a time after technology and “freedom”, because no one is really free, is through a quote, “Then I think: I used to dress like that. That was freedom. Westernized, they used to call it” (Atwood,28). This shows the setting of the book comes into a society where people are stripped of their “freedom” and “rights” but what they really had was a set of “privileges”, that where taking away by someone or a group of people. In this case, the women are used to bear children and it seems that they are caged in within their own homes and can’t go outside into different cities like it was before.

Something that stands out in the novel is Offred’s comment on Janine’s pregnancy. “Now that she’s the carrier of life, she is closer to death, and needs special security.” (Atwood, 26), this quote seemed weird at first, why would she be closer to death? She should have been taken care of during birth if it is one of the wealthy men that has her in the household. Yet, there is always a reason for everything and in this case, the novel lets the reader know how she is closer to death. Throughout pages thirty-two and thirty-three we begin to understand Offred’s comment as to why Janine is closer to death. The society has banned the practice of medicine and thus increases the mortality rate of the child and/or mother during child birth. This society has moved backwards in knowledge and return to the Old times of society where technology, science and common sense weren’t implemented.

Class Notes of 10/31/17

Homework for 11/2/17:

The Handmaids Tale Part 1 and 2, Blog due before 2:30pm Thursday

Groups for Peer Review:

1. Samuel, Sebastian, terry
2. Kahat, Penina, Calvin
3. Jordan, Chris, Blanca
4. Chris S., Adrian, Gem
5. Daniel, Taisha, Chris D
6. Kina, Jeffery, Stephen
7. Stevens, Heder, Imani

Peer Review:

  • Holistic/Global -> Local
    Intro/Thesis (framing)
    Topic Sentences
    Quotations

How do I review?

Does it make sense?

Is it developed in points?

Evidence

Quotes are they introduced?

Are they explained?

Connections?

What is the main idea of the paragraph? Does the topic sentence reflect this?
Look over your introduction and find a balanced intro.

Final Essay due: Before 2:30pm (electronic and hardcopy)

Who is the Main Character:

Kirsten

• Her life experiences
• Focus
• Story line is more dominate
• The blur on the back of the book
• Arthur seems to be more like Julius Cesar(Tragic Hero)
• Arthur is more like a literary device, a vessel

Arthur:
• His connections to the characters

Where do Kirsten and Arthur intersect?
Where do they overlap?
Both Kirsten and Arthur love theater

Kirsten:
– passion and love for acting
– Attachment, father-figure with Arthur

Think about moments when characters overlap

What does it mean to be defined by something?

– People remember you by
– Internal significance, gives you meaning
(defined by something)

Kristen:
– Arthur
– Cataclysm
– Memories/motivation  kills
– Adventure
– nature

Jeevan:
– Purpose in life (career)
– Hero’s journey

Miranda:
– Love experiences
– Relationships
– “I repent nothing”
– Art (creates alternate worlds)

Traveling Symphony:
– Motto

Station Eleven, has it landed on the progress of a Utopia?

Bring back fixed thoughts on Thursday

 

Meaning of Life

Death and survival

In the novel Station Eleven, we have the main character Kirsten, a young girl that experiences death of someone she admired deeply and with mass death of almost everyone, because of the Georgia Flu Death. Survival changed Kirsten to become a survivalist in a post-apocalyptic world which forces her to make choices to continue with her life.

Body 1

One aspect of the novel that comes up with the antagonist Tyler, Arthur’s son is the idea of religion and its role in this post-doomsday world. This is one of the ways people like Tyler and Elizabeth (Tyler’s mother) deal with the death surrounding them in the world where they lost everything. We get a glimpse of the outcome of not having a father figure to guide Tyler or in this case a father figure with a contradicting ideology that is the bible. We get a glimpse of how the prophet (Tyler) views the world, “”The flu,” the prophet said, “the great cleansing that we suffered twenty years ago, that flu was our flood. The light we carry within us is the ark that carried Noah and his people over the face of the terrible waters, and I submit that we were saved”—his voice was rising—”not only to bring the light, to spread the light, but to be the light. We were saved because we are the light. We are the pure.”” (Mandel, 60). This shows how the mass death has affected a young boy growing up in an apocalyptic world. The many deaths in his short life including the one from his father at the beginning of the novel, has made him find comfort in religion. He has taken a religious text and without a guide he took the New testament from the bible and made himself the “light” or in other words a divine being chosen by God. Yet, we have regular people just happy that they have found other human beings, trying to survive and longing for human interaction, which is what we have from the male in the hotel that arrives in Severn city, ““I was in the hotel,” he said finally. “I followed your footprints in the snow.” There were tears on his face. “Okay,” someone said, “but why are you crying?” “I’d thought I was the only one,” he said.”” (Mandel, 257). This shows us how death and survival go hand in hand, how death shapes characters within the novel, especially Tyler due to the impact we see in his life as he goes from a little boy playing his Gameboy to a religious cult leader.

 

Body 2

Even though there is death on an imaginable scale, there is still death surrounding the characters of the Traveling Symphony, especially the character, Kirsten. She gives an insight on how she thinks of the Prophet’s ideology of light and darkness, “If you are the light, if your enemies are darkness, then there’s nothing that you cannot justify. There’s nothing you can’t survive, because there’s nothing that you will not do.” (Mandel, 139). For Kirsten, it is simple enough to deduce, if you believe that you are the light or some form of “hero”, then you will do anything to keep on living. There is nothing you won’t be able to overcome, even if it is just to survive. Even in the face of death the narrator starts chapter eleven with the quote, “What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.” (Mandel, 57), refers to the fact that there is still art and literature that still stands the test of time. The one example that the beauty this quote speaks of is in the form of how Shakespeare’s plays have survived surrounded by such death, which ironically his plays cover the same type of theme with Kirsten as the main actor in some of the plays. We get to see how much death and her surviving time has changed her from a little girl with a dream into a woman that makes her goals possible through her own will.

Quotes:

  1. 257: “I was in the hotel,” he said finally. “I followed your footprints in the snow.” There were tears on his face.

“Okay,” someone said, “but why are you crying?”

“I’d thought I was the only one,” he said.”

  1. 139: “If you are the light, if your enemies are darkness, then there’s nothing that you cannot justify. There’s nothing you can’t survive, because there’s nothing that you will not do.”
  2. 60: “The flu,” the prophet said, “the great cleansing that we suffered twenty years ago, that flu was our flood. The light we carry within us is the ark that carried Noah and his people over the face of the terrible waters, and I submit that we were saved”—his voice was rising—”not only to bring the light, to spread the light, but to be the light. We were saved because we are the light. We are the pure.”
  3. 57: “What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.”

Reflection:

I have procrastinated this assignment the entire weekend and started writing Monday evening. However, I have given the them for my essay a lot of though and I want to go with the theme of surviving and death. For obvious reasons, there is a lot of death in the novel Station Eleven however it is the way these deaths affect the other characters in the story that made me think of the reasons why we as a species strive to live a life full of goals and accomplishments. Getting of topic but I don’t start strong with my thesis statements since I could remember, so I started with finding quotes that could be good for this theme of Death and survival and the is coexistence with each other and created my body paragraph and then set out to create my thesis.

Station Eleven: Part 7-9

As we come to a closing with the book Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, all the questions we had while reading the through the story start to make senses. We finally understand the impact Arthur Leander has on many lives within the book. The holding of memories through time in order to not lose the old world completely is shown through the travels of a young female named Kirsten. She shows us how a apocalyptic world changes people and turns us into savage human beasts. The only way we seem to keep our humanity is through culture of time before remembrance and forms of art. The concentration the book has is on Shakespeare plays, that in this case have stood the test of time in this reality.

One example of this can be found with Clark and his collection of artifacts from the old world turned into a museum for anyone who is interested in knowing life before the flu-epidemic. “In Year Fifteen people came to the museum to look at the past after their long days of work.” (Mandel, 261), this place of old was a way for people to understand what came before the flu and how our civilization lived. For Severn City, we have a civilization that has moved on from the flu and has started schools to teach the young kids about the life they are going to live and the basics for life in the future. The people in this society were building a community they can call home. However, there are people like Taylor and Elizabeth that seem to have lost hope in reality and fall under the spell of religion to look for answers. Eventually, that path led to Taylor speaking about the present like it was the end of the world. The difference between the end of the world and the end of a species is different. Life continues but a dangerous combination of religious instructions with non guide and isolation from the “real” world leads to Taylor becoming the prophet. When it comes for him to die he encounters his makers in the form of Station Eleven quotes, “We long only to go home, ” Kirsten said. This was from the first issue, Station Eleven. A face-off between Dr. Eleven and an adversary from the Undersea. “We dream of sunlight, we dream of walking on earth.” (Mandel, 302), this is the lines that she [Kirsten] used when The prophet had her at gun point and was about to execute her and at that moment we can see that a part of Taylor’s inner humanity flickers into his being but as he is about to eliminate Kirsten, he essentially is getting rid of his past and his memories in order to move on with his future.

Another form of preservation of the past can be seen by the gift Kirsten gives to Clark, one of the copies of Station Eleven, “she wanted to ensure that at least one of the comics would be safe in case of trouble on the road.” (Mandel, 331), a gesture that allowed for Clark to remember the past, the past being the scene where Miranda is in the dinner party with everyone and it is a reflection of that point in her time and it is also a form of preserving the past. Which in this case Clark was part of that past and he alone is able to rejoice and remember it, leaving the reader to come full circle on the story that is Station Eleven.

Station Eleven: Part 4-6

The sections four through six of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven revolves around the idea of isolation, survival, and disconnection. Each section has a different character(s) focus in which we see each striving to survive in the old world or trying to stay alive in the new world, after the Georgia Flu.

We see the character Kirsten ending up looking through a school with her friend August and what they find in this school has many connections to the past world and also has the truth about the new world as well. In chapter 21 they are seen searching for new instruments to use for the Shakespeare plays and what they find is unsettling but not surprising. One of the other members of the search party for the school, Jackson informs the rest of the group of his findings, “Jackson appeared in the doorway. “There’s a skeleton in the men’s room.” (Mandel, 129), “”Old. Bullet hole in the skull.” (Mandel, 129). This moment shows us how different and cold our new world could be, were everyone is out for themselves, and that this is the realty of the new world. Yet, we have characters like Kirsten still looking for bits of the old world to peer through, “Because we are always looking for the former world, before all the traces of the former world are gone. But it seemed like too much to explain all this, so she shrugged instead of answering him.” (Mandel, 130), this shows how futile it is to keep looking for the past and that most people are just accepting it and trying to continue to move forward where ever that may be.

Still out of reading these three sections of the book, the quote that really stood out to me the most is on page 163, and it may not seem like anything big but I know people have to at least though about this once in their lifetime. If not then they should think about it, it can be an eye opener, “I’m talking about these people who’ve ended up io one life instead of another and they are just so disappointed. Do you know what I mean? They’ve done what’s expected of them. They want to do something different but it’s impossible now, there’s a mortgage, kids, whatever, they’re trapped. Dan’s like that” (Mendel 163). This quote had me thinking about the people in the old world and how they believe they haven’t lived up to their full potential or that they are unhappy with life as it is right now. Reading this I begin to wonder about my life and how I ended up where I am today, even though I am still twenty-one. Still, in the book itself the characters think about this question in some way or another before the epidemic started. This quote was out of an interview from Clark and Dahlia, as Clark is hearing all of this, he begins to ask himself if he is happy with his life at that moment.

In the end we will always search for happiness, something that is a recurring theme in our literature readings, but is it just an illusion that we give ourselves? Are we, in Dahlia’s words, just a bunch of High-functioning sleepwalkers? (Mendel, 163).

Station Eleven: Part 2 and Part 3

Continuing with the book, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel continues off from the first part of the book onto the future in which we see the main protagonist Kirsten rehearsing for the next play as they are traveling down Lake Michigan. It’s been twenty years after the flu ha–ps wiped out humanity almost completely, and now the status of progress within society has begun to digress, however people still keep the past alive in actions and memories. Kristen seems to be trapped in the past, remembering the actor that died in the first section of the book. “There were countless things about the pre-collapse world that Kristen couldn’t remember – her street address, her mother’s face, the TV shows that August never stopped talking about—but she did remember Arthur Leander.” (Mandel, 40), this shows how Arthur Leander’s gesture of giving her comics before he passed away so suddenly, and as the book mentions Kristen remembers other things that should be important comics, gives an insight on how important acting and the influence he had on her was. August a young boy enjoyed television, obsessed with classical music, and played the violin. For him, he keeps the past alive in his interest of T.V., “When they broke into houses now, August searched for issues of TV Guide. Mostly obsolete by the time the pandemic hit, but used by a few people right up to the end. He liked to flip through them later at quiet moments.” (Mandel, 39-40), as we can see technology was of no use as the flu rampaged through the world unless it was being used to find a cure.

If we continue to section three we are learning more about the past and how significant it is for Kristen’s keep sake of the two comics, “Dr. Eleven, Vol 1, No. 1: Station Eleven and Dr. Eleven, Vol 1, No 2: The Pursuit” (Mandel, 42), in which Arthur’s wife Miranda is writing the novel “Station Eleven”. However, before she became Arthur’s wife, her boyfriend Pablo wouldn’t support her dreams and that is something that she was looking for and was trapped in when living with Pablo. “You’re always half on Station Eleven,” Pablo said during a fight a week or so ago, “and I don’t even understand your project. What are you actually going for here?” (Mandel, 87), this explains how unhappy she was in the relationship and ironically, she also becomes unhappy in the marriage with Arthur after three years of marriage. Arthur goes on to have an affair and thankfully, Miranda goes onto publish the comic, Station Eleven. We can prove this simply because Arthur hands Kristen the comic to keep, which has stood the test of time. As of now, Kristen has both comics memorized by heart. Something that shows us that the future can be saved so long as the people that have survived can retain history and be able to move on into the future, regardless of any conflicts from people around the world.

Part 1

The story station eleven by emily st john mandel, takes place in many setttings, a theater, on the streets of the city, in Allan Gardens and the end of civilization. We are introduced to the main character Jeevan Chaudhary, a person that seems to be a journalist. The author uses third person point of view to tell the story of a soon to be empty civilization. He reacted implusively and after he wasn’t able to save the actor Arthur Leander, even with the help of a cardiologist he was pronouced dead on the stage in the middle of Act four. It took this actor to fall ironicly in a play which death is probably the main focus, but the actions of both the cardiologist and Mr. Chaudhary seem to be part of the play and it honestly I had to read it at least three times before i got it.

The only other person that was able to understand was a young girl and started to break down. The little girl named Kristen Raymonde mentions something that would leave such a lasting impression on a little girl, besides the death of Arthur Leander she has a desire regardless of what is going on around her, “It’s the thing I love most in the world too,” Kristen said, after some time had passed.”,(Mandel, p8, last paragraph), ” “Acting” she said, ” (Mandel, p9, first paragraph). This expresses how the impression of the death of the main lead character of the play really played an impacton her life. I say this because the summary in the back of the book Kristen Raymonde says, “She will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous hollywood actor, had a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear.” Showing us in the story how exactly it changed her life.