Author Archives: Penina

The Handmaid’s Tale TV Series

The famous novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was recently recreated earlier this year by Bruce Miller as a Hulu TV original series. Many elements of the TV series differ from the book, Bruce Miller was able to extract the dramatic appeal that the novel originally had, he even went as far as enhancing this appeal in some episodes. The cast for Bruce Miller show were selected perfectly, as someone that has both read the book and watched the show I can assure you that the cast truly embodies the will of the characters. Interestingly enough the show took a different route for character development, the writers for the show decided to shine more light on smaller characters. For example both Ofglen and Serena Joy were smaller characters in the novel that helped exemplify the plot, but during the Hulu TV original series if felt like they had their own subplots.

The TV series had a mysterious vibe, and from episode to episode, the writers are able to  keep the viewers on the edge of their seats. The writers provided additional information to the characters and their background, this was obviously to elongate the show. It was satisfying that they provided additional information because there was a lot of questions left after reading the novel were answered in the tv series about Offred, which was played by Elisabeth Moss, and her Husband Luke played by O-T Fagbenle. The TV series allowed the viewer to see their life before gilead, the lifestyle they lived, how the couple met, and most importantly how Offred was captured into the city of Gilead. The viewer is also given comfort by knowing that her family is alive and are safe.

Luke managed to escape and currently lives in Canada, and Hanna, their daughter, was captured but is still able and is safe. I am assuming that she is being raised  to one day become a handmaid, like her mother. We got to know that Nick played by  Max Minghella was actually an eye, which seems to make a huge difference and a calmness about Offred’s escape. The audience may feel safe about where Offred is going, and about her future assuming that Nick may be able to protect her. We also get to know the Commander played by Joseph Fiennes, and Serena Joy, played by Yvonne Strzechowski, in dept. Serena Joy was actually one of the masterminds behind the creation of Gilead, which ironically seems bizarre, because she didn’t seem very happy. Overall the series is a must see, because of the intensity of its excitement, it draws the viewer in. After watching the entire series, I have become a supportive fan, and am anticipating the second season.

Ray of Hope

The final chapters of Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale was a page turner, with unexpected twists at every corner. I was left with mixed feelings about this ending of the tale. On one hand I obviously was frustrated due to the cliff hanger at the end of the novel, but on the other I couldn’t believe that she had the opportunity to be free. Her possible freedom was an event I was anticipating for the entire novel, and I was stunned when the author abruptly ending the novel on a open note. At least it wasn’t as disappointing as the end of the ‘Sopranos’, when it ended mid scene.

What was most strange to me was the appearance of the “new” Ofglen, “And of course she is, the new one, and Ofglen, wherever she is, is no longer Ofglen” (283). She soon told Offred what had really happened to Ofglen, ” She hanged herself,” she says. “After the Salvaging. She saw the van coming for her. It was better” (285). This all seems so strange and a little doubtful that Ofglen just hung herself. I think that she might be alive, because new Ofglen can have easily been lied to. On the other hand, Ofglen could have possibly have planned an escape along with Nick. There is so much that could have happened, maybe this is exactly what the author wanted, to have us guessing what really happened to the protagonist. The last couple of pages in the novel are the ‘Historical Notes’ where the author makes the reader wonder about these stories, because according to notes 30 tapes are discovered. They could be real stories or they could be false, but it is very extraordinary that something like this could have been real, mostly during the Gilead era.

I was so excited for Offred, though it was unclear of her future, she finally had some light of hope. Here last words in the novel were, “Whether this is my end or a new beginning I have no way of knowing: I have given myself over into the hands of strangers, because it can’t be helped” (295). Finally, she was risking everything for her daughter, her husband, her past life, because she was no longer the wimp that Moira always called her, but then again it’s not like she planned or decided this on her own, she was forced and ordered. Yet does it matter how this happened as long as there is a chance to escape such misery. I really appreciated how the author developed Offred towards the final pages, it is notable that Offred said, “I’m tired of this melodrama, I’m tired of keeping silent. There’s no one you can protect, your life has value to no one. I want it finished.” (293). Yes, finally Offred has evolved from somebody that was constantly treated like a, “two-legged wombs”, now she has a chance. The author doesn’t end the novel on a comforting, he makes the ending more realistic, I don’t know what will happen to the characters, all I can do is hope like Offred that everything will end on a happy note.  


What are they hoping for?

In Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale I can’t help but notice how the protagonist, Offred, has such attention to the smallest details. She describes every little thing in such beautiful detail and color, “around the edges; the flower borders, in which the daffodils are now fading and the tulips are opening their cups, spilling out color. The tulips are red, a darker crimson towards the stem, as if they have been cut and are beginning to heal there” (12). I guess she has no other choice, but to notice such things. Her life seems so dull and empty, in contrast to the flowers. They remind her about her past life, when he had her own garden, where she grew her own flowers and she had freedom to do as she wanted and touch and smell and live. These flowers bring out felling, which she has to constantly compress in herself, ” I can remember the smell of the turned earth, the plump shapes of bulbs help in the hands, fullness, the dry rustle of seeds through the fingers” (12).

Offred is kept in a constant state of fear by almost all the people surrounding her. It could be by the Commander’s wife or even by young guardians, ” The young ones are often the most dangerous, the most fanatical, the jumpiest with their guns” (20). She is always prepared for the worst, and is always reminded that she might not survive, ” Not all of you will make it through. Some of you will fall on dry ground or thrones. Some of you are shallow-rooted.” (18). Why does Aunt Lydia make her memorize this, what does she really mean when saying that not all of them will make it through? 

Through out the novel Offred is reminiscing on her past possessions like the shorts and jeans, which she bought with her own money. She would put on what she wanted and bought what she wished, but now she is dressed in only a red, covering most of her body parts, including her face. Offred’s face is covered with white wigs keeping her even from seeing. She remembers not only her clothes, but even the plastic shopping bags in her kitchen, “I hated to waste them and would stuff them in under the sink, until the day would come when there would be too many” (27). It is in these memories she realizes how she would take things for granted, “it is true, i took too much for granted; I trusted fate, back then” (27). It feels as though she is in a constant state of sadness and sorrow. I wonder what it is that keeps her and the other handmaids going and living in such a terrifying  environment. What are they hoping for? That one day they will be able to return to her past life, to the people they miss and love or that one day they will gain their freedom back? What is it these girls need to accomplish in order to get released or is there really no way out for them? Maybe they will be kept as slaves for the rest of their lives. 

An Analysis of Leadership in Station Eleven



It is difficult to comprehend why only certain people take control of chaotic situations. In Emily St. John Mandel’s novel, Station Eleven, a vast cast of characters were put in situations that challenged their leadership abilities during chaotic situations. The Prophet was one of the many protagonists that was capable of having a following of people during the novel, his story was differently the most fascinating and compelling ones. It is very interesting to find out the story behind this character and try to figure out what influenced him to become the person he was during the book. What was it that made him believe that he was the chosen who? Could he really be the chosen one or was this just him loosing his mind in all the chaos? 

Part 1

As I mentioned earlier the Prophet was a important character in the post collapse world. The Prophet influenced many events throughout the story, mostly in negative ways. The prophet’s name was Tyler. He was the son of Arthur, another protagonist in the novel. Arthur was a famous Hollywood actor living a luxurious life. Unfortunately, Arthur was not able to see Tyler so often during his career. The narrator discusses that during the collapse Tyler was still a young child, only eight years old. He was stuck in an airport with his mother Elizabeth Colton when it all happened. Tyler was a very quiet young man, he focused most of his adolescence reading. He didn’t have much to choose from just his comic books, and his mothers New Testament. He was so enthralled by the new testament that he hadn’t realized the hard times after the collapses life.

Part 2

At a point Tyler and his mother decided to leave the Museum of Civilization.  It’s unknown what occurred during that time to Tyler and Elizabeth, yet it doesn’t matter to the reader because the result would still be the same with us not knowing what had actually occurred. His mother would still be dead and Tyler would still be a broken leader in the post apocalyptic society. Tyler became a very anger and dangerous man, ironically “The Prophet” had done nonreligious actions during his time in leadership. 


After reading the novel I wanted to focus on what effects the collapse had on people, specifically Tyler. The greatest argument in the novel is if his actions were truly effective for the people during the time. His journey from a boy stuck in an airport with his mother to a man effecting the lives of so many. I want to try and figure out why he turned into such an aggressive character.

I am excited to focus on Tyler’s story and the people around his, how he influenced them and vice versa. I need to focus on adding more textual evidence. I am struggling to understand what could have happened when he and his mother left the airport. During those years the changes in Tyler’s life had began, what could have happened then? Furthermore, I need to find more comparisons to Tyler? I believe that I can choose a character from the book to compare to Tyler and his leadership. The hard part is picking one.

“Everything happens for a reason”

I found the last few parts of Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station Eleven to be breathtaking. A peaceful end to such an intense story. It was interesting to see how the plot unraveled and the characters connected towards the end. We were able to see sides of the characters we have never seen before. I was saw compelled to Clark’s character. There was something quite special about him. At the beginning of the novel we only knew him as Arthur’s best friend and just a character in the background, but there was so much more to him and his role in the Museum of Civilization. Clark seemed to be a calm and sincere character, which I feel was quite opposite to Arthur. What he was able to do was so special, collecting memories and objects of the past life,” Clark had always been fond of beautiful objects, and in his present state of mind, all objects were beautiful”(255). I wish we knew even more of Clark and his life before the collapse.

It was lovely to see a different side to Arthur as well. He felt so genuine and loving, this is something we didn’t really get out of him earlier in the novel. He kind of seemed to a selfish actore or some Hollywood playboy, and now at fifty one finally a man who is ready to turn his life around for the ones he loves, specifically Tyler.

I really wonder how Tyler would have turned out if it wasn’t for the Georgia Flu. Just to image this little boy who maybe followed in the footsteps of his father and become a actor, or a writer or anything really, but instead he became someone so terrifying. I wonder what was driving Tyler to act as he did. His obsession with the New Testament may have influenced Tyler but the anger, where did that come from? He played such a major role in the lives of many people, kind of like his father, but for all the wrong reasons.

The author kept us so intrigued about the mystery of the Museum of Civilization. The destination and the escape that so many had hoped and aimed for. It was a place of shelter and security for others. The museum was a place of peace. No crazy prophets or cults, finally a real civilization in a world full of danger and chaos. Fortunately for some they were able to make it.


“We want to be remembered”


After interpreting parts four to six in the novel, “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel, the reader can assess more about the characters because the narrator discusses events that occurred before the collapse and some events that transpire after the collapse. These chapters let the reader understand the circumstance that the characters went through before the collapse of civilization. This is where Emily St. John Mandel shines as an author, by displaying a more realistic portrayal of a dystopia, than an over the top science fiction novel.

In part four a girl named Eleanor comes to The Symphony to seek refuge with them, she claims that she ran away from the prophet, because he was trying to marry her, the Symphony was in search of their missing members Sayid and Dieter, Arthur Leander was being interviewed by Jeevan pre-collapse, on the other hand, Laura being interviewed about the post-collapse life, and Jeevan and his brother Frank trying to survive the first months of the post-collapse.

Yet, out of all these events the one that caught my eye the most was the conversation between Jeevan and Frank in chapter 34. During day 58, Frank was reading to Jeevan one of his many texts. He discusses why Hollywood actors rise to fame and their reasons for wanting it, and he puts that in relation with what they end up giving back to the world. He tells Jeevan, “I’ve been thinking lately about immortality. What it means to be remembered, what I want to be remembered for, certain questions concerning memory and fame” (186). What Frank is telling Jeevan is that Hollywood actors are immortal once they are seen, because they are always on the screen, even after they are long dead. Frank continues saying that, “First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered” (187). Frank believes that most actors originally want to be noticed, this is to fulfill their own human desire, but over time they evolve, they want to be remembered. Yet once they achieve their fame they become humanitarians, but they never truly become humanitarians because the whole reason they became actors was to fulfill their own desires.

Frank’s text has a strong resemblance to a song written by Diane Warren, “I Was Here”. The song was performed during the global launch of the United Nations’ World Humanitarian Day. A day that honored the humanitarians who put their lives in danger for the greater good. The song “I Was Here” sings, “I wanna say I lived each day until I died You know that I, been something in, somebody’s life The hearts I have touched Will be the proof that I leave That I made a difference And this world will see Brought someone some happiness Left this world a little better”. It’s strange but Frank’s text really connects here, “Beyoncé”, will always be remembered for this song not because she wants to be a humanitarian but because she was famous. Fame gives people the ability to proper bigger issues onto the scope of society, even if it wasn’t their original intention, they still had the humanity to discuss it.




After the collapse.

Canadian author Emily St. John Mandel in her novel, “Station Eleven, uses an apocalyptic future to discuss her narratives frightening and gripping moments. The setting of the novel is twenty years after the “collapse”, an event that eradicated modern day society. We are introduced to the Traveling Symphony,  a group of actors and musicians recreating Shakespeare’s plays through elaborate performances . It’s amazing not only that people survived and were able to start their lives all over again, but they were still able to bring some form of joy and entertainment to one another. I would imagine the world to become dark and dreadful with people walking around the town feeling depressed and unsafe of the future, even twenty years after the collapse. The world has changed so much that there was no longer technology, the young citizens didn’t even know about the existence of ‘wifi’. In the middle of part two, the survivors who are part of the Symphony, Kristen and August were reminiscing about the past, they discussed their favorite shows, comics, and even talked about the TV guides from back in the day.

During the third part of the story, the narrator starts discussing the time before the collapse, a time period where Arthur Lender was still alive, and was about to meet his second wife Miranda. The couple had a lovely beginning, but it was quick to end, it had become an unpleasant marriage, soon after their third anniversary they got divorced. Arthur was a famous Hollywood star and his lifestyle was extravagant,  but that was exactly what Miranda disliked most about their marriage. She didn’t fit into this life and felt very unhappy with her marriage. In her novel, “Dr.Eleven”, Miranda writes that she, ” stood looking over [her] damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth”, which may resemble how Miranda felt in her life during her marriage to Arthur (105). She was living in this beautiful Los Angeles home, but in reality it was damaged on the inside. Miranda was unhappy and lonely, she only had her dog, Luli, and her art. You can feel her disappointment and devastation in her life and Arthur Lender was the direct cause of these feelings, but I do think she knew exactly what she was getting into by marrying a Hollywood star.

By the end of part three, the narrator takes the reader back to the present day setting. Kristen is being interviewed for a newspaper about the collapse. The idea was to create an oral history of the collapse. She talks about what happen in towns when she would pass through with the symphony, she said during the interview, that “Everyone’s afraid, or it seems like some people have enough to eat and other people are starving, or you see pregnant eleven-year-olds and you know the place is either lawless or in the grip of something, a cult of some kind”(114). The author is saying that civilization needed to be rebuilt, but it wasn’t easy for all members of society. The pregnant eleven year old was a symbol to the collapse of culture. A societies infrastructure can’t be rebuilt only through material but the sanity that organized culture can bring. Some towns were taken over by cults and were extremely dangerous. It’s so unfortunate people were taken advantage of in such horrible circumstances.

How would you react?

The new age science fiction novel, “Station Elevenby Emily St. John Mandel takes an unexpected turn when a group of people, need to learn to survive during a flu epidemic.  The story starts during a play ” King Lear”, when suddenly an actor, Arthur, dies of a heart attack right on stage. During the first three chapters we are introduced to a few characters Jeevan, a paramedic trying to save the dying actorKirsten, a little girl who was witnessing this tragic event and a actress in the play. Also, Laura who is Jeevans girlfriend, and Hua, a friend to Jeevans who happens to be working in a hospital.

In the third chapter Hua tells Jeevan about aGeorgia Flueffecting his patients, during a phone call. According to Hua, this flu was no joke, on the other hand it was spreading very fast, leading to 37 deaths in Huas hospital. Jeevan was extremely worried and immediately wanted to leave the city. He got in touch his girlfriend Laura and brother Frank, to save them from about the epidemicLaura did not seem as worried, I actualy think she did trust Jeevan as much, “Jeevan, I’m concerned. This sounds paranoid to me.”(Emily Mandel, chapter 3). Maybe she thought he was just overreating. Jeevan was still quick to react and was determined to leave as soon as possible. Chapter five, brings us to Miranda, an executive at a shipping company, and one of Arthurs ex wives, he was known to have several of those. She was living in Malaysia when she receives a phone call about the death of someone she once wanted to spend her whole life with.

In chapter six everything suddenly disappears, “No more countries, all borders unmanned. No more fire departments, no more police. No more road maintenance or garbage pickup. No more spacecraft rising up from Cape Canaveral, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, from Vandenburg, Plesetsk, Tanegashima, burning paths through the atmosphere into space.” (Emily Mandel, chapter 6)”. This story started with a paramedic trying to save his family, and a women finding out about the death of her ex husband on the other side of the earth, to a world of absolute emptiness. A world left with nothing, but possibly  only ashes and dirt left. We are left to wonder what actually happened, could it be that this flu epidemic had done this. Destroying every part of our earth, or was this something else. Something far more scarier  than we could imagine. It makes you wonder for a moment, what if this happens to us one day no more countries, no more cities, no more light, no more anything. What if everything was about to change for us, how would you react?  Would you react like Jeevan, freak out and try to escape, or like Laura not even realizing what could happen .

Man vs Technology


The short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” by  Ray Bradbury takes place in the next decade in one of the few remaining ‘smart house’.  The events that occurred prior to the story was the complete nuclearly annihilation of humanity, this event occurred exactly on August 5, 2026. Yet the story begins after this event, at seven o’clock in the morning, a voice clock announces the time of day to start the morning. The smart house cooks breakfast cleans itself, and announces that today is, ” Mr. Featherstone’s birthday. Today is the anniversary of Tilita’s marriage”,  this continues throughout the whole story the clock announces the significant times of the day, but the reader always wonders to whom (Ray Bradbury, p.1). Though the home was able to accomplish so much, there was no use to it, due to the absence of human life. But, strangely enough, there was silhouette burnt on the walls of the house, a  silhouette of a father, a mother. and their two children. The only life in the house was a dog. This dog appears at twelve noon, “A dog whined, shivering, on the front porch”, (Ray Bradbury, p.2). The poor dog was covered in scores and mud. It ran up the stairs hoping to see someone, but unfortunately, there was no one to greet him. Soon, the hopeless dog dies, due to his horrible condition.

At nine-five the voice says, “Mrs. McClellan, which poem would you like this evening?” (Ray Bradbury, p.3), but of course, there was no answer. The voice then chose by random, a poem by Sara Teasdale. “Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree”, “If mankind perished utterly”, I think the theme of the poem reflects what’s happening within this house. Even without any humans this house still goes on, but soon after this poem, the house started falling apart. A fire had started, “The house gave ground as the fire in ten billion angry sparks moved with flaming ease from room to room and then up the stairs.” (Ray Bradbury, p.3). Every room was ruined, every closet and window was gone. The house was no longer able to save itself, all that was left was ashes and smoke, but somehow one wall still stood, “Within the wall, the last voice said, over and over again and again, even as the sun rose to shine upon the heaped rubble and steam: “Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is…”  (Ray Bradbury, p.4).

The theme of the short story is the fear of technology replacing human beings, yet this story only proved the opposite point. Even though the entire human race was gone, the machines still went doing human tasks, this is the difference between machines and humans. If the story was about a human survivor after the nuclear annihilation of mankind, it would be a story of perseverance, of the human learning and adapting to the situation, not repeating the same task over and over. The difference between man and machine is that we can adapt to any situation, a machine can not.

Cruel Reality

The narrator is trying to convince the reader to believe that Omelas was an incredible, utopian city. Where the people live a joyous life and they celebrate the ‘Festival of the Summer’ where on the streets, “the music beats faster, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing”( Ursula Le Guin, 1). The narrator goes on and on about the extraordinary occasion and incredible atmosphere in the city during the festival. Moreover, she is trying hard to describe this city as the most carefree place in the world. Where there is no slaves and no rules, and with people living in pure happiness.

Omelas seemed marvelous and exquisitely beautiful but every utopia has a bit of dystopia, and in Omelas case it was, the child. There is a child living in a basement, with no windows, and with no floors, just dirt beneath its feet. The child is only given half a bowl of cornmeal a day. ‘It’ is approximately ten years old, it is constantly left alone and has become an ‘imbecile through fear, malnutrition and neglect’ (Ursula Le Guin, 5).  The child is left in the room with two mops, “It finds them horrible. It shuts its eyes, but it knows the mops are still standing” (Ursula Le Guin, 5), the strange thing is that the child fears these mops because it was never taught not to fear them. A parent reassurances its child of all the things to fear in the world and all the things not to fear. That equation has been taken away from him, he has lived its entire life in a locked room, with nobody coming to visit him, but to bring him the little bit of cornmeal to keep his stomach full enough. The purpose of this child was never to understand the differences of the world and what it should or should not fear, but the purpose of ‘it’ is to bring fear itself to the youth of Omelas.

It’s crazy to think that the happiness of the citizens living in Omelas, all depends on the ‘abominable misery’ of this suffering child ( Ursula Le Guin, 5). The people believe that if it is not left in filth and suffering, then their own lives will be in jeopardy, ‘ the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest, and the kindly weathers of their skies’ ( Ursula Le Guin, page 5). When the young people visit the child, they see how ‘it’ is treated, they feel guilty and helpless, but they come to realize they are unable to change this cruel reality they live in. Once they discover the truth of their ‘utopia’ they no longer go back home, they are just unable. They walk out of their “joyous” city into the darkness. A darkness that no one knows about, but they seem to know where they are going.

I think this was an extraordinary story and Ursula Le Guin had such an amazing imagination when writing about the city and all the details about the people, celebrations, and community. But it’s upsetting that the child was used as a sacrifice by the Omelasians to keep their peace and happiness. It makes you realize that maybe a utopia is impossible after all.