Author Archives: Kainat Ali

What Did I Just Watch

Comparing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood to the Hulu series I am actually disappointed. It is understandable that the book and the show/movie will never be the same, some details will always be left out. Maybe I will always prefer the books over the series/movies so I might seem somewhat bias. However in my opinion too many details were left out or added in. The actual story to The Handmaid’s Tale¬†is no longer how it was written in the original book. I do not remember ever reading that Luke was shot while they tried to runaway. In the book, Offred continues to keep hope that both her child and husband are alive and somewhere safe. He is never actually presumed dead in the book. The Commanders and their wives are described as very old in the book, on the other hand the show portrays them as young. Now when you think of old you can imagine sterile but in the show the Commanders and their wives are both young erasing that image. It also takes away from the idea the book has that men can ever be sterile regardless of how old they get. The problem can only be within the women and never the men. But since the Commanders and their wives are shown as young that idea no longer makes as much sense as it did in the book. The disgust Serena Joy feels towards Offred does remain thankfully in both the show and the book. But the way that Nick interacts with Offred is completely different. That touch of the foot in the book is not shown within the series. That part in the book is actually very important since it is basically the start of Offred and Nick’s relationship. The touch of the foot is the affection Offred, does not realize in that moment, needs. But that scene does not exist in the series. If I am not mistaken, the handmaid’s are not supposed to interact that openly in front of anyone according to the book. Yet in the series, Offred and Offglen seem to be speaking without a worry. They are supposed to whisper but in the series they are speaking at a normal volume. The idea of “Mayday” also does not exist in the series so far and that was a good chunk of the book. The word “Mayday” played the role of a secret word that becomes the reason that Offglen and Offred become closer. Mayday is the reason Offred gets an insight to a whole different world in the book. In the series, they jump to giving her that insight. I also do not remember Offred spilling her entire story to Offglen in the book, but she does in the series. Lastly, the significance of the Ceremony and giving birth is completely lost in the series. When Janine is shown in the moments building up towards her giving birth the wife is no where to be found in that room. Aunt Lydia and all of the handmaid’s are the ones that are there with her. In the book, the wife is meant to hold the arms of the handmaid during the ceremony as well as when she is giving birth. That act is meant to symbolize a kind of togetherness. The handmaid is the path for the wife’s destination which is the baby. Holding the handmaid’s arms during birth is to show that the wife herself is also feeling what the handmaid feels. It makes the wife a part of the process. That doesn’t exist in the series.

The Hulu series is not awful, but for someone who has read the book and is now watching the series it’s almost like torture. I would like to rewrite their entire script for them.

Faith

Reading through parts three to eight of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood religion seems to play an essential role throughout the story. Whether it be the Commander, the men, the handmaid’s or Gilead itself their lives are molded because of religion.

Bibles are locked away and only accessible to the men in the house. “The Bible is kept locked up, the way people once kept tea locked up, so the servants wouldn’t steal it. It’s an incendiary device: who knows what we’d make of it, if we ever got out hands on it? We can be read to from it, by him, but we cannot read.” (87) It is almost as if the women cannot be trusted to interpret the Bible themselves. The typical, men know better and they will be the ones to make decisions kind of thing. How do the women even know if what is being read to them is even real? But they do not have the luxury of reading the Bible for themselves. It is a society dominated by men who now make the decisions for the women. They go so far as even educating them religiously. Definitely not how the world once was in Gilead.

Ironically, the house Offred is sent to the room she is given to stay in has a cushion that has the word Faith written on it. “There’s a hard little cushion on it, with a petit point cover: FAITH, in square print, surrounded by a wreath of lilies.” (57) Why lilies? Lilies symbolize “that the soul of the departed has restored innocence after death.” (teleflora.com) Restored innocence, the irony cannot be overlooked. This women is looked down upon for the role she plays in the society yet this is the cushion in her room. Handmaid’s are not respected by wives. They are meant to wear a certain color for a reason. The red sets them apart from the women that are supposed to be “respected.” All the handmaid’s come to do is gift these women who spit at them and scoff at them as they pass a child. The child that these women cannot carry themselves because of whatever complication. “We put our hands over our hearts to show these stranger women that we feel with them in their loss. Beneath her veil the first one scowls at us. One of the others turns aside, spits on the sidewalk. The Econowives do not like us.” (44) However, is it not odd that of all things, this cushion with the word faith that also has lilies ends up in this handmaid’s room? Given her status in this society how could one possibly overlook that cushion? Handmaid’s are not allowed to read either so why even give a handmaid a single word to read. “It’s the only thing they’ve given me to read. If I were caught doing it, would it count? I didn’t put the cushion here myself.” (57) Does this foreshadow her death in any sort of way? Is this Serena Joy’s way of acknowledging that she hates Offred but understands why she is here therefor cannot judge her to the extreme that most women judge handmaid’s.

Lost and Trapped

As soon as reading The Handmaid’s Tale¬†by Margaret Atwood I get the feeling of new world and new rules. There is not too much explanation as to why things are how they are or why certain rules or circumstances exist. Although I find that odd to not give even the tiniest bit of backstory but it intrigues me.

The way the story is written so far helps me understand the feeling of “foreign,” not belonging almost but not quite. Offred quickly realizes that she is not welcome in the house that she now resides in. “So, you’re the new one, she said. She didn’t step aside to let me in, she just stood there in the doorway, blocking the entrance. She wanted me to feel that I could not come into the house unless she said so.” (13) Long quote, yes I know. But the way this was worded is perfect to further describe the feeling of being alienated. The Commander’s wife, Serena Joy, made it known that a woman of her kind was not exactly welcomed but she also had no choice but to let her in. I myself as a woman felt so uncomfortable for both of these women just by how it was written. You could feel the awkwardness but you can also see how the Commander’s wife wanted her position to be known. Although I assume that was not necessary but because she felt vulnerable at that point she found the need to act out in that way.

Atwood throws the color red at us in many ways and in many parts of the book so far. Red symbolizes fertility or sexual sin as well like the Scarlet Letter.¬†It also symbolizes blood I’m guessing to make a connection with what their “occupation” is and the color red. At a point of the story it is said, “The red of the smile is the same as the red of the tulips on Serena Joy’s garden, towards the base of the flowers where they are beginning to heal. The red is the same but there is no connection.” (33) This gave me the sense that she is struggling to keep the definition of what red is supposed to mean to her. “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) This quote just further shows that she still has not completely adapted to the lifestyle that she is now put into. She really is having a problem keeping things from intermixing. She needs to keep her ideas and what she is supposed to know completely separated from one another.

In parts 1-2 I also realized that for some reason the handmaid’s and the “martha’s” do not really get along. They don’t really interact with each other. They both are female servants of a kind but its like the Martha’s judge the handmaid’s for what they do. Rita , a martha says “she wouldn’t debase herself like that.” (10) So much for understanding each others struggles right? They both do what they think is best for themselves to survive in this world but they are being judged despite knowing that.

The Choices We Make Define Who We Are

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel gives the readers a taste of death, survival, fate, civilization and memories. She takes us through what once was and how things are now. As the story goes on we also see how everyone somehow interlinks. We also see how any decision that the characters in this story make begin to shape them for who we now know them as.

Constantly throughout Station Eleven¬†we are inside of Arthur’s life. It is almost as if this story was mainly written to tell his story. The thing is, everything does eventually come right back to him. The protagonists in this story have either come across Arthur or have had an actual relationship with him. Kirsten is only this child actress who took part in Arthur’s final production King Lear. However, for some odd reason her life seems to revolve around this man. She did not remember too much from before this new world but she remembers him. She is always looking for pictures or pieces of him in any magazines that she can find. “There were countless things about the pre-collapse world that Kirsten couldn’t remember…but she did remember Arthur Leander.” (40) She carried around pictures of him and Station Eleven the comic that Arthur had given to her.

Similar to Kirsten there is Tyler. Tyler is not only Arthurs son but he is also The Prophet. Tyler witnessed a broken marriage. He did not get to see his father all that much. But Arthur does give Tyler Station Eleven the comic book as well. This was the one thing he held most dear to him because his father gave it to him. Even after this pandemic he too carried around a version of Station Eleven the comic. “A folded piece of paper fell out of the book. It was a page torn from a copy of Dr. Eleven, Vol. I, No: I: Station Eleven.” (304) Kirsten kind of includes Arthur into her life so much that anything regarding him seemed as though it was something valuable to her. With or without realizing this comic book ends up being a character as well just like Tyler and Kirsten. Tyler let Station Eleven and religion influence him so much he became The Prophet. Without the comic book, Kirsten would not have ever been able to “defeat” Tyler.

Reflection :

I am not exactly sure where I want to go with my topic. I do however know that I want to focus on Station Eleven the comic book is of importance in this story. I also want to touch upon religion to further explain Tyler’s part in the story. I know how everyone connects in the end and it actually is important with the point I am trying to make. Not every single character in this story is important to mention for the point that I’m making but I do need to figure out how to tie in Miranda, Tyler, Arthur, Kirsten, religion and the comic book together. The quotes needed to back up my point are already highlighted. I just don’t know how to go about writing this essay. I don’t even like the temporary title.

Class Notes : 10/26

Congratulations to Chris Hamilton and Nickolas for winning this weeks People’s Choice.¬†Congratulations to Samuel for being this weeks featured post.

What is the Museum of Civilization ?

  • A place where the past was being preserved
  • After the Georgia Flu, things that were of any value to the people was placed in this place
  • A collection of items for the young that did not remember anything or knew nothing of how things were before the flu
  • Nostalgic reminders for the one’s that did remember

Free Write

What one item would you put in Clark’s “Museum of Civilization” and why?

  • Books : To serve as a means of forgetting reality for a few
  • A Powerful PC : (e.g Sims 4) Allow people to understand how things once were
  • Boarding Pass : Teach the people that there are other ways to get around the world and to preserve transportation.
  • Scrapbook : Holds memories. A visual representation of how things once were. “We Used to exist”
  • Naruto : To preserve creativity.

Clark’s museums valuables are looked upon as “useless”

“A Limitless number of objects in the world that had no practical use but that people wanted to preserve.” (258)

Does an object need to have an actual purpose to hold value?

Worksheet question #2

  • Apocalypse Cult /¬†“Spiritual Cult”
  • Tyler’s mother (Elizabeth) ; She did not pay attention to his “unwinding insanity”
  • Clash of ideology ; the influence of Elizabeth and Miranda

Miranda influenced Tyler through Station Eleven the comic

Elizabeth influenced Tyler through her religious beliefs

“Everything happens for a reason” (261)

  • Station Eleven & The New Testament

Because of “divine right” I will lead you into this new world

Having followers

Light ; being portrayed as good

Both had a good and bad influence

The New Testament is open to interpretation

Source Text – is a text (sometimes oral) from which information or ideas are derived.

 

Homework:

10/31 Essay #1 Pre-Draft

Post your pre-drafts to the blog before class (categorize as Essay 1, Pre-Draft)

Bring four printed copies to class

Pre-Draft should include:

Working essay title

Thesis paragraph (introduction)

Two full body paragraphs (complete with topic sentences, textual evidence/citations and analysis)

Reflection about where you in the process, what you have done, what you still are working on, what you are struggling with, what you think you have done well and so on

Finish the worksheet you got today – will continue to go through it next class

And bring candy ūüôā [Happy Halloween]

11/2 Reading response to The Handmaid’s Tale¬†Parts I-II

Due on Thursday not Wednesday by 2:30 pm

And It All Comes Together

Coming to the end of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel we see how it all connects.

The constant shifting between Arthur’s back story and the world “now” finally makes sense. In previous chapters we already saw how some of characters have already played some role in each others life. But now we really see how everything really does come together. Why Station Eleven the comic was so important.

We already know how most of the characters in the book have crossed paths in each others lives. That is why when we get the backstory in the previous chapters the story does slowly start to unfold for the readers. But can we talk about The Prophet and the comic? Honestly, it caught me so off guard to see that Arthur’s very own son is the one who grew up to become The Prophet. Kirsten finally comes across another version/volume of Station Eleven after Arthurs son, Tyler, is killed. “It was a page torn from a copy of Dr. Eleven, Vol. I, No. I: Station Eleven, the first page of Station Eleven she’d ever seen that hadn’t come from her copies of the books.” (304.)

Further down on page 304 Kirsten says how Tyler was about her age and that he had the “misfortune of remembering everything.” I actually found this so interesting because back in chapter 37 Kirsten says in the interview, “the more you remember, the more you’ve lost.” (195.) She linked it all together. They were around the same age however she didn’t remember too much of the old world whereas he probably did. However both of their versions of the world somehow did revolve around Station Eleven. Kirsten does not even remember her own mother as well as she remembers Arthur. She even continues to hunt down pictures or articles that have to do with him. This is the same man who gave her the comics. She wanted to find the other volumes to those comics. She was invested in those comics and the same goes for Tyler.

The difference between Tyler and Kirsten is that Tyler made Station Eleven¬†his reality. He mixed the comic and religion together. A copy of the New Testament was found in his bag and from within that is where the folded piece of Station Eleven fell out from. On page 261 his mother, Elizabeth, says “everything happens for a reason .. it’s not for us to know” and “we just want to live a more spiritual life.” This is where religion came into play in his life. Tyler lived with his mother, Elizabeth and Arthur had gotten divorced and Elizabeth took him with her. Assuming that Elizabeth was a woman of faith she most likely taught Tyler about religion as well. So what is one to think of that? He quotes from the comic and calls himself The Prophet. Somewhere down the road he got everything mixed up. His beliefs and his interests eventually meshed into one and out came The Prophet.

The danger that was once following The Symphony no longer exists. They can all move forward in their lives. New beginnings without fear. This takes us to page 311 where Kirsten is shown the streets that are lit up with electricity. It was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The Prophet is gone, she is safe, she is reunited with the friend she was looking for this entire time and now civilization is slowly making its way back.

Release.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no writer.

Writing is a huge part of my life. It has gotten me through many things in my life. When I could not turn to anyone, I found peace in writing out how I feel. I would go to a park or sit near the water or watch the sunset and let myself fully feel however it was that I was feeling at that point in my life. Then I would start writing each and every thought running through my mind. When I was by myself I did not have to worry about anyone asking if I am okay. I would not be telling anyone lies. I would not be questioned by anyone. It was just be my feelings and I. The way I wanted it to be.

The words would just slip onto the paper. My feelings would be pouring out on to this piece of paper and I could feel a huge weight being taken off of my chest as each word was written down. Writing down how I felt became much easier than having to explain why I feel how I feel. There was no one there to judge me. No one there to tell me I shouldn’t feel this way or anything else a person says to someone while venting.¬†Being able to write down my feelings saved me from so many things. It is what has kept me sane throughout my life. I probably would have lost myself along the way if I was too busy trying to find a “shoulder to cry on.” I’m sure this sounds depressing but, it just is what it is.

This post would be incomplete without a backstory, so here it is.

Fortunately for me, I have gotten myself out of an abusive relationship. That is why I used to sit near the water or any place that would calm me down. All the thoughts that would rush in my head or the anxiety I ¬†would feel all over again would go away once I was near the water. This relationship caused me to drop out of college for a while. I needed to find myself again. I needed to find that reason to move forward and understand that what I went through is not okay but I will be okay.¬†This person made it so I did not have anyone to turn to. I cut off my friends which was my mistake entirely. It was that typical first love, I gave you my all type of thing. I wasn’t mature. I did not think my decisions through. I didn’t question anything too much. I was always upset and angry. I didn’t want to leave my house as much anymore. I did not want to speak to anyone. I almost quit my job. I already dropped out. What more could I have done to damage myself even further?

I lost myself in that relationship. I had zero confidence in myself. I was so self-conscious. I didn’t think anything of myself. I didn’t think I was worthy of any good that would have came my way. So I stayed around the bad for way too long and hurt myself. Four years of my life went down the drain. Honestly, I don’t even remember too much about it anymore either. But I am thankful that I went through whatever I did because I am much stronger than I once was. I don’t let others influence my decisions anymore. I have my guard up all the time which is good and bad but I can’t help it now. I am also now engaged and happier than I have ever been in my life. I am back in school. I am no longer hurt by what has happened. I know that I won’t get closure and stopped seeking for it awhile ago. I have made my peace with my past.

Writing is what got me through it all. When I couldn’t make sense of my thoughts, writing it down helped. When there was no one else to speak to, I wrote it down. Writing became and still is my therapy.

The More You Remember, The More You’ve Lost

In parts 4-6 in Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel we see how things change. We see how things once were and how they are now.

Jumping straight to part 5, in Kirsten’s interview she says how she actually does not remember too much of how the world once was before the pandemic. She goes on to say that “doesn’t it seem like the people who struggle most with it are the people who remember the old world clearly?” (195) Basically saying that the ones who were young when the pandemic hit do not realize how much they have actually lost. If anything, the world before seems almost like a dream to them. Not being able to differentiate between reality and their imagination. They adjusted to the world now. Whereas, the ones that do remember are constantly stuck in their thoughts. Thinking of how once this street was full of children. There was internet. There was electricity. There was discipline, law and not as much fear as there is now in this version of the world.

Similarly, we return to Arthur and the moments leading to his death and after part 6. We have already gotten a taste of what the letters that Arthur has written to his old friend Victoria are like. Arthur takes it upon himself to prepare for what is to come. At this time we see that Arthur calls his ex-wife Miranda and they eventually see each other once again. Miranda who once thought she would never fit in and change herself for this Hollywood world is now focused on her appearance. Using her appearance almost as a shield to the outside world this time. “Those previous versions of herself were so distant now that remembering them was almost like remembering other people.” (206) No one can rip her apart, she looks to be of this “world” and of this community now.¬†She did her best to no longer look like her old self.

There is also this friend, Victoria, who we do not know too much about either has changed in her own ways as well. We are introduced to her through the letters that Arthur has been writing to her all these years. These letters are mostly one-sided oddly enough. However, as we find out that this so called “friend” Victoria was now publishing his letters Arthur blames himself for it to get to this point. He believes that he deserved this, “I treated Victoria like a diary.” (211) Victoria would write back occasionally a couple letters and postcards and then it became more like a note being passed to inform him of her change of address. This childhood friend was now a stranger who did not write back, even Miranda felt sad upon hearing that. She lost sight of friendship, she valued money over that childhood friendship that they once had. Even though this was a result based off of her current living and financial situation it was betrayal nonetheless.

Lastly, we go back to Arthur. Someone who was portrayed to us as almost as such a horrible person has now shrunken to this man who is now accepting his past mistakes in a way. He begins to acknowledge how he treated others. He also gives Jeevan an inside scoop about the affair he was having but asks for twenty four hours before Jeevan even mentions this to anyone else. (172) He asks for this time as if he was going to try and do right by those that will be effected by this. This was coming from a man who has had an affair before. The marriage that was currently about to end was the result of an affair that he had previously. Ironically enough he could not find the courage to tell her about the affair he was having despite all the chances he had to tell her. (173)

I know there are much more important things going on in the story like the airplane and the airport and how it all connects. But the growth of the characters is also important. We see different sides of them all. The backstory to all of these people give us a better understanding of why they are how they are now or why they reacted in certain ways.

We Don’t Belong

In Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven¬†we continue to get a taste of the present and past. Many things have changed from before the pandemic. Population has decreased. Communities have gotten smaller. Some places go on peacefully whereas some places have leaders. There is also constant fear among the people, not knowing what may happen now. The only thing that has not changed is the feeling of not belonging.

The Traveling Symphony ends up visiting a town that they have already been in the past. They have been wandering for many years, “traveling back and forth along the shores of Lakes Huron and Michigan.” (37) ¬†This is just one of the many towns that does have a leader of some sort. This was once a place where you would see many children but now you only see two or three. Multiple families would be living in the fast food restaurants but now you see those same places boarded up. A armed guard can also be seen in the middle of the town, not like it was before.¬†We are introduced to a man who we know as “The Prophet.” Not much has been said about him but it seems that he does run this place. His orders, his opinions do hold value to these people.

During this time Kirsten is looking for her friend who she finds out are no longer residing in this town. Kirsten comes across a midwife who informs her that her friend “rejected the prophets advances.” (51) She also tells her that her friend had to leave town and to stop asking questions and leave immediately. This shows that this town is not as safe as it once was and also that Kirsten and The Symphony might not be welcomed here the way they thought they were. The Symphony does eventually perform in the town, this is their first encounter with The Prophet. He acknowledges their presence but Kirsten feels otherwise. “Something in his tone made Kirsten want to run, a suggestion of a trapdoor waiting under every word.” (59) Kirsten feels odd and as if The Prophet has something else in mind for them. The way he is towards them makes her feel uncomfortable. Eventually The Symphony does end up leaving the town.

Similarly, in the past Arthur’s first wife Miranda also feels out of place. Their love story might seem so perfect in the eyes of others. Two people who grew up on the same island and one day end up together. However, Arthur is set to make a name for himself. He wants to pursue a career in acting. He wants to do what he loves. Miranda on the other hand keeps to herself, she is not one for the crowd. Fast forward to the night of their third anniversary, instead of having an intimate dinner or getaway of some sort they are surrounded by a few other people. They are celebrating their anniversary and the opening weekend figures to his movie. Arthur says, “two birds with one stone.” (91) Instead of feeling comfortable and seated next to Arthur she is at the opposite end of the table. She wonders why theres distance, why these people are here and why she can’t catch her husbands eye. She starts to feel small, she realizes that her marriage is over. Her husband is having an affair with his costar who is seated right next to her husband. Later that night she whispers to her dog after Arthur dismisses the conversation she was trying to initiate about his affair, “this life was never ours.” (101) She admits that no matter how much time passes, she can never be like these people. The attention, the cameras, the crowds it is just not her.

Whether it be the past or the present, sometimes you are just not welcomed or a part of a place the way you might have thought you were. Things change. People can’t always adapt.

Moving Towards Darkness

As soon as reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, we are introduced to Arthur Leander who is playing the role of King Lear. While Arthur is on stage, he begins to stumble wheeze and there is also a sudden change in his face. He goes on to cradle his hand to his chest “like a broken bird.” (Mandel, page 3.”) One of the actors was looking at Arthur closely whilst this was going on but assumed that he was acting. However, there was a man in the front row of the orchestra section who seemed to realize something was wrong.

We are introduced to this man as Jeevan, he was training to be a paramedic. To Arthur’s luck in that moment, Jeevan knew the play very well and realized that he was skipping over lines. He threw himself onto the stage and caught Arthur before he collapsed to the ground. By this time, everyone in the theater including the actors caught on to what was actually going on. Arthur was not acting, something was actually wrong with the man. Arthur’s heart was no longer beating.

At this point, Jeevan began CPR and the curtain drops now separating the stage and the audience. A cardiologist, Walter Jacobi, makes his way through the curtains to try and help Arthur as well. While Jeevan had multiple thoughts going through his mind including, “please start breathing again.” (Mandel, page 5.) Walter was waiting for his turn to help. Soon after the ambulance had arrived and the paramedics were now attending to Arthur. They shocked his body in hopes of restarting his heart but unfortunately he was pronounced dead at nine fourteen p.m.

While Jeevan was looking for a way to exit the scene he had heard a child whimpering. He goes to her, Kirsten, to comfort her and get her away from what was going on. As Jeevan finally makes his way out he thinks of what was going on and what an impact it had on him.¬†Arthur dying right in front of Jeevan was a turning point in his life. Jeevan had been a “bartender, a paparazzo, an entertainment journalist, then a paparazzo again and then once again a bartender.” (Mandel, page 16.) After seeing Arthur die Jeevan was now certain that he wanted to become a paramedic.

We now go back to Kirsten, who is still crying. Tanya hands her an object that she thought “was the most beautiful, the most wonderful, the strangest thing anyone had ever given her. It was a lump of glass with a storm cloud trapped inside.” (Mandel, page 15.) I took this as foreshadowing for what is to come. As if we are already told that something is soon about to come at these people but they won’t have anywhere to go. They’ll be “trapped” before anyone even realizes what is happening.¬†We get to the ‚Äústorm‚ÄĚ that Hua, Jeevan‚Äôs only close friend introduces him to. The Georgia Flu was an epidemic mimicking flu like symptoms. Hua quickly realized that this was not something to take lightly so he advises Jeevan to get his brother and his girlfriend and leave the city at once or stay in his apartment.¬†Unfortunately, Jeevan cannot leave as soon as Hua would like him to so he stacks up on basic supplies like food and water.