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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.

 

Know Your Worth

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is not what I expected it to be, I pictured a much darker story than it turned out to be. While I was reading parts III to VIII, I was amazed by the Handmaid’s unwillingness to give up on the small pleasures of life even under the horrible circumstances they had to live in. I predicted to see the Handmaid’s spirit crumble under the horrible and often enough filthy situations they were in, but I was wrong. “Sometimes I sing to myself, in my head; something lugubrious, mournful, Presbyterian”(Atwood 54). This quote is an important one because even though she’s being treated as a means to an end, as an object, her mind is her own and she will do what she wants with it regardless of the rules. I really like that, it shows that she has a similar mindset to those of slaves, you can take away their freedom, take away everything they hold dear, but it is up to them whether or not you can break their spirits.

People living under conditions where they are regarded as less than others and as a means to an end, usually end up forgetting who they are and what they are worth. The protagonist in the novel, contrary to others, refuses to forget who she is, they gave her a Handmaid’s name, however she will not give up on her own. “ My name isn’t Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because its forbidden” (84). This quote tells the reader that she knows what her name is, but she buried it deep in her mind to be recovered at a later time. This goes back to the earlier moments where she did not allow her oppressors to have control over her mind, they are trying to change her personality, but she won’t let them.

The protagonist often uses her imagination to relive joyful moments of her past life, she imagines them with as much details as she can, perhaps hoping she could go back and enjoy them once more “ We would lie in those afternoon beds, afterwards, hands on each other, talking it over” (51). This quote shows that she doesn’t let her mind succumb to the less than ideal moments she’s been through, she still remembers the pleasurable ones, and she longs for them.While I was reading a bit further, I couldn’t resist the urge to compare her visit to the doctor with the memory she has of Luke. “ My breasts are fingered in their turn, a search for ripeness, rot,”(60). “ Two brown eyes, a nose, a head with brown hair on it. His hand is between my legs” (60). These quotes show the doctors behavior towards her, he’s using his position to pressure her to give into him, compared to her past life, where she actually had the desire to do so.

The following pictures depicts two very different worlds.

    

 

 

(https://www.riseuptennessee.org/)                                (Janine-poster.png)

After reading further into the novel, I can’t help it but wonder why the Handmaid’s won’t rise up and decide enough is enough. They are treated as objects, looked down upon, and they have to abide by the several strict rules set upon them, surely they would rather live in better conditions. Perhaps they think it would be best to keep their heads down and hope for an opportunity for a better life to come by. Perhaps they simple do not have a better choice or were not allowed to make that choice. I can only make assumptions at the moment due to my ignorance of the full story in the novel.

The Life of a Handmaid

Reading parts III to VIII of the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood have become very emotional. Reading through how Offred has to go through day by day as a Handmaid is upsetting and disgusting. The title as a Handmaid, given to women, is similar to a prostitute however almost all of their rights are taken away. This happened when the nation has fallen and overthrown by a new government called the Gilead. The Gilead arrange the Handmaids to be personal sex workers for families who can not conceive children. That is the position of the protagonist Offred. Offred has to suffer of the force of Gilead of being a Handmaid maid because she is a woman who is fertile and she makes an attempt to rebel if she can.

Offred visits her doctor where the doctor sexually harass her, then she refuses him and his offer to help Offred. When Offred will soon be in a uncomfortable situation with her doctor as he sexually harass her, “My breasts are fingered in their turn, a search for ripeness, rot. The breathing comes nearer” (Artwood 60). During this moment the doctor offers to help Offred. She starts to imagine about her previous husband Luke, who’s whereabouts are unknown as of now, can be found. Offred’s hope about Luke represents how much she wants to be loved by someone, rather than being a sex object. This shows how the Gilead influence creates this norm that Handmaids are nothing more than sex slaves to have children. The doctor’s offer doesn’t seem to assist Offred’s situations at all. He touches Offred without her permission as he places his hand between Offred’s legs as he intends to have sex with her in the end (Artwood 61). This shows pre-Gilead harassment. She doesn’t stop him and as the doctor tells Offred the truth that she wants to have a baby. She responds, “‘Yes,’ I say. It’s true, and I don’t ask why, because I know. Give me children, or else I die. There is more than one meaning to it” (Artwood 61). Offred is under the influence of the Gilead. Due to the order that Gilead creates to make Handmaids, she can’t go against them. Offred know of the consequences of rebelling where dying is one option of having a punishment. This is what the interpretation of “There is more than one meaning to it” may mean. She refuses the doctor’s offer as she doesn’t want to break any Gilead laws.

Offred will commence The Ceremony of having sex with her commander with the commander’s wife present, this the duty of a Handmaid. The scene is described where Offred lies on her back on Serena Joy’s, the commander’s wife, bed. Offred is fully wearing her clothes except for her underwear.  Offred lies between Serena Joy’s legs, while Serena Joy is wearing clothes, and they hold hands. The commander has sex with Offred’s lower body (Artwood  93-94). Offred knows they are not making love nor does it count as rape to her as she explains, “Nor does rape cover it: nothing is going on here that I haven’t signed up for,” (Artwood 94). The atmosphere in the room is serious where any feelings being shown here is unnecessary. This scene demonstrates what it is meant of a Handmaid, nothing but a body to have sex with. Offred doesn’t think about Luke or love and she remains unemotional during the entire process. This shows what the Gilead is doing to Offred and other Handmaids. 

Blessed Be The Fruit

Here we go! The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a reading I think we all discreetly dreaded beginning being that the text is more rigid; rich with vocabulary. I can now say that it’s actually quite a page-turner, as I find myself more and more drawn to this backwards and unjust society, or the Republic of Gilead as Atwood names it. These women; Handmaids, are literally objects; vessels kept around for the sole purpose of procreation. In Atwood’s world, time seems to have undone the work generations of women have fought for; rights that truly belong to any human at birth and for the duration of their lives. The right to think freely, act freely and simply BE seems to have vanished from any woman with the ability to reproduce. Atwood paints a vivid picture of a very possible future with this record from Offred’s point of view written during a time of political and religious turmoil.

A Handmaid, at a glance:

There is no question how little this society wants to see of any woman. Within the first chapter, I instantly compared Offred’s routine details to that of a prisoner. They were being controlled by the very own law; exploited for their reproductive capabilities, prohibited from free will and any kind of self-expressive lifestyle. The very clothing they wore was a blood-red, highly distinguishable uniform.”Everything except the wings around my face is red: the color of blood, which defines us. The skirt is ankle length…the white wings too are prescribed issue; they are to keep us from seeing, but also from being seen”, (Atwood 8). Through Offred’s thoughts, we can feel the hands of a suppressive government that held tight restraints on every aspect of her. Her mind is possibly all that she has left, as well as memories of her former lifestyle where short skirts, makeup and loose hair was a norm; some of the many liberties of a free woman. These women were repurposed as baby-making machines; no longer human, no longer allowed to act like one. The encounter with Offred and the Guardians on page 22 shows the true constrictions on their livelihood and natural human instincts. With just seconds of eye contact that was barely allowed, Offred internally rages with sexual temptation since she is restricted from expressing such feelings.

“Of-fred”? “Of-glen”?

These names themselves suggest that Handmaids are literal property, belonging perhaps to the man for which they will reproduce, or someone deeper we have yet to discover. As we conclude chapter one, we learn that these women exchange names inaudibly by watching each others mouth movement: “Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June”, (Atwood 4). This chapter seems to be a flashback to the origin of Handmaids before they are Handmaids, as they still have their own names; not attached to a “Fred” or a “Glen”. This reminded me of marriage; the way married women are often renamed “Mrs. (Husband’s Name Here), as if a woman is the physical property of a man once a paper is signed. I was also reminded of how poor the circumstances of marriage were surrounding the times before women received many of our rights; a time around the creation of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin. Women were seen almost equivalent to purchased land, as they were tied to their owners, (husbands), by a signature on a marriage certificate. Women during this time were manipulated and controlled; often birthing several children while mainly staying home, as jobs that hired women were scarce.

Wives VS Handmaids

As for the women who cannot reproduce in these times, the Wives lead task-less, easy going lives as they are lacking of the vital ability to have their own babies. The fact that a Handmaid goes through 9 months with child means nothing to the Wives, as the situation is described as a “business transaction”, (Atwood 15). The Handmaids and Wives are furthest from friends and they seem to envy one another’s lifestyles: The Wives envy the Handmaid’s for being capable of breeding and the Handmaid’s envy the Wives for their effortless routines. Besides the endless knitting the Wives seem to be accountable for, there was basically nothing else. “It’s good to have small goals that can easily be attained”, (Atwood 13). I would assume the Wives are also jealous due to the sense of purposelessness they must feel in a society where Handmaids are held with priority.

This is a photo from the critically acclaimed Hulu series based from the novel. “Your body is no longer your own.”

 

 

What influences a Prophet?

In Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, it is revealed that the Prophet is actually Arthur Leander’s son Tyler. As Tyler now known as the prophet, one is to wonder, what led him to be the prophet, what could’ve been the influence that make him into the prophet. Could’ve it have been his mother Elizabeth, she was kind of crazy or delusion after Georgia Flu. Or was it the influences from his life experiences during first few years of after Georgia Flu combine the comic book Dr. Eleven and The New testament he read as child. Regardless Tyler is the Prophet, and everything that we know about the Prophet is him.

So, Elizabeth is insane, right? Before Elizabeth left Severn City Airport, she said “We just want to live a more spiritual life,” (Mandel, 261) while leaving with a group of religious wanders saying “A new world requires new gods,” (Mandel, 261) already that doesn’t sound right. And now she wants to follow them, she must be insane or will be insane because these people chant in a language no one knows around a bonfire, that is creepy. If normal sanity person see that they avoid it, and everyone in that airport ignore them during time they’ve stay with them. Even Dolores said after they left the airport “That kind of insanity’s contagious,” (Mandel, 261) I guess Elizabeth caught that insanity and that sum up everything in one line to what happened to Elizabeth. Thus, she was raising Tyler while they’re being expose to this insanity, it no wonder he became the Prophet of a doomsday cult from his mother’s bad influences.

Maybe what really influenced or made Tyler to become the Prophet was his life after the Georgia Flu, the comic with the book that he held onto all his life after the Georgia Flu. It is strange thing that Tyler the Prophet held onto The New Testament that his mother owned and the Dr. Eleven vol. 1, no. 1: Station Eleven that his father sent to him as child. During the confrontation between Tyler the Prophet and Kirsten, he responded “But it’s too late for that,” (Mandel, 302) to Kristen quoting from Dr. Eleven “We long only to go home, we dream of sunlight, we dream of walking on the Earth.” (Mandel, 302) his response to these quotes describes Tyler has given up on the old world before Georgia Flu. Maybe he sees that this world has abandon them already, and he see that this world is punishing them as they bear witness to the people around them will slowly die off. Since they mentioned that life spam for human was shorten dramatically compared to before Georgia Flu. From ideals that his mother told him that “Everything happens for a reason” (Mandel, 261) he came to this conclusion based on his mother reasoning and his experiences during first few years of Georgia Flu, which became something that influenced him to be the Prophet.

The quote on the fold up page of Dr. Eleven comic he held onto “You were his second-in-command, Dr. Eleven. In his absence, you must lead” (Mandel, 304) this powerful line that could been huge part of influencing Tyler. Tyler must had view himself as Dr. Eleven having to take up the mantle as the Prophet to lead the people with same ideas as those religious wanders. I think Tyler was still sane, while his mother became insane for the time they had left the Severn airport. He must have thought I must lead humanity to salvation, and he decided like the quote “You were his second-in-command, Dr. Eleven. In his absence, you must lead” in his mind he must have thought I must be like Dr. Eleven, he must lead his group to spread these religious ideals, so he taken up the mantle as the Prophet. He held onto his mother ideals from New Testament and his father’s Dr. Eleven comic as a reminder. Thus, Tyler became the Prophet we know now.

It was not strange that the prophet was carrying a copy of The New Testament, but it was strange that it doesn’t match up to those religious wanders’ ideals “A new world requires new gods,” that doesn’t make sense if that case, would you not want a new newer testament for these new gods? The New Testament or Book of Revelation doesn’t fit into that quote from those religious wanders because the book came from the world before the Georgia Flu. Not only that but he had inside The New Testament was a page from the comic Dr. Eleven. I think Tyler the Prophet remember everything from time before and after the Georgia Flu, his mother and father, even all harsh experience he had go through during early years of after the Georgia Flu, which why he held his memories from his mother and father very close to him as he traveled as the Prophet. I think Tyler was leading his cult as the Prophet to keep his group of people alive through the world that became hell in his eyes. In Book of Revelation, there was always a struggle between good and evil, which portraits onto Tyler killing people as the Prophet and protecting his believers. These aspects influenced Tyler to be the Prophet.

I want leave this idea worth questioning “Maybe Tyler thought himself as new god that those religious wanders were going on about, and he as new god protected only his believers from his cult” or “Maybe Tyler the Prophet was like False Prophet in Book of Revelations and mark he place on people is referenced to the mark of the beast?”

Forever Useless

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

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

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

 

In the Wake of Our Death…

“August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury is now my new favorite dystopian, future-foretelling short story. My previous favorite was “The Veldt” which is also by Bradbury, and which he also happens to mention in this piece! I will leave a link to it below.

Bradbury shifts us forward in time and displays the wasted, electric junkyard that is the remains of what once was humanity before an apparent nuclear explosion, as we read that only one house remained intact in the “ruined” city that “gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles”, (Bradbury 1). There was not a trace of human life left in this city of “Allendale, California”, and presumably not a single life left beyond the house that “stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes”, (Bradbury 1). Bradbury helps us visualize this eerie, mechanical ghost town as the permanent daily routines of the house persisted and catered to no one. We also see some very accurate predictions from Bradbury of a dishwasher when he describes the uneaten toast and eggs being scraped into the sink, “where hot water whirled them down a metal throat which digested and flushed them away to the distant sea. The dirty dishes were dropped into a hot washer and emerged twinkling dry”, (Bradbury 1).

This abandoned, resilient home that stood in the wake of the end of mankind was still alive, with each segment of ones day blaring from automated voices in the ceilings, reminding no one that it was “eight-one, run, run, …off to school, off to work!”, (Bradbury 1). Allendale, California and perhaps the entire world is predicted as a society run strictly on machines that utterly replace human action. As we inevitably grow and innovate technologically, our advances will ultimately serve to comfort and assist any human action possible, much like the tiny robot mice that diligently went after any dirt or mud in the home on cue. The absence of humans in this story becomes even more evident on Bradbury 3 when it hit nine o’clock and as “the beds warmed their hidden circuits” in preparation for the cool night ahead, the automated ceiling voice summoned a Mrs. McClellan in regards to the poem of the evening. With no response or command, the voice chooses a poem by Sara Teasdale. The poem’s title and overall visceral point correlates perfectly with Bradbury’s piece in saying that these machines we perpetually create and improve will outlive us with no life to tend to, but it is nature that will continuously flourish beyond the ending of the civilization we know. As this singular standing house begins to “die” from Bradbury 3-4, we see nature reclaim the last manmade machine when “a falling tree bough crashed through the kitchen window”, later igniting a inextinguishable fire that consumes and stifles every last automated voice. I vividly visualize the demise of this electric home when Bradbury describes the wall sprays that “let down showers of mechanical rain”, (Bradbury 3). The robot mice still going at the last bits of ash and dust before failing and joining the fire that had now swallowed the home whole until “all the film spools burned, until all the wires withered and the circuits cracked”, (Bradbury 4).

Ray Bradbury is not a new author for me so I need to say that this short story, as well as his many other dystopian pieces serve as warnings of the result of our endless technological progressions and its dwindling effect on our emotions and actions. These machines take the place of  human involvement, which erase the purpose of any activity we once did physically. With machines to make every move for you, there is no space for humans to lift a finger in such a effortless, mechanical world. Our precious technology that we will constantly evolve will outrun us all, and nature will eventually swallow up the remaining evidence of whats left.

I also thought i’d add that Bradbury connects this story to another piece written by him, (also in 1950), called “The Veldt” when he mentions the nurseries that displayed glowing realistic images that made the walls come alive at “four-thirty” on Bradbury 2. These nurseries served as entertainment for children to visualize their inner thoughts, hence Bradbury calling it “the children’s hour” on Bradbury 3.

Link to “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury if you’re interested:

https://www.juhsd.net/cms/lib010/CA01902464/Centricity/Domain/256/2016_The%20Veldt.pdf

The Moral Dilemma Behind Happiness In Omelas

In Ursula Le Guin’s, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, we see a paradoxical dichotomy presented that questions our morals. It asks us to question something that may work well in theory but perhaps not as well in real life. It asks us about the whole over the part and whether this is a good model for society. Is the city of Omelas a true utopia? This is the overall question presented to us. Utopia’s are imaginary, idealistic, and often times impractical worlds, the city of Omelas being a perfect example for this. Omelas is an impractical utopia, everyone is deserving and worthy of a good life, humanity is not something to be decided upon.

The child is dehumanized throughout the story by referred to as “it”. In this post I will be using the words they/them/their (singular) in effort to bring my point of the worth of the child’s humanity across.

The model for Omelas is inherently flawed. It would be different perhaps, if the child wasn’t a child, or if the child had spent it’s whole life not knowing much else. However, this is a child who was once part of the exterior world “the child, […] has not always lived in the tool room.” A tragic hero, they have fallen from their status of normalcy to being slave to a societies need for happiness.  This is not an adult who understands sacrifices and can willingly accept and take on the responsibility of an entire populations happiness; this is child, they do not know about commitment or the need of greater good, the child is living a miserable life against their will. Which brings up the question, are the people in Omelas subject to an Ella Enchanted like curse where their feelings are redundant? Do they assure themselves that the child is fine? Are they also subject to a logic of “it can always be worse”? If that is what happens, the truth is things can always be much worse, but our measure for progress shouldn’t be be, “how much worse can things get?” but “how much better can things be?” We can see from the ending of the story, that the former is exactly what the people in Omelas tell themselves, “it [the child] is too degraded and imbecile to know any real joy” the people delude themselves into believing that the child is deserving of whatever pain and suffering befalls on them. Why, after initially feeling such rage over the the the captivity of the child, do they eventually “realize” i.e. convince themselves, that the child “would not get much good from of its freedom”? Guilt. This is the ultimate moral dilemma in Omelas, to choose between the happiness of the whole or the happiness of one, and the guilt of having to live with both decisions. Who is included in the whole though? Definitely not the child. The most telling part about our humanity however, might not even be with how the people lie to themselves in order to sleep at night, but in the reaction of” those who walk away from Omelas.” What they tell us when they walk away, is they are not trying, they are avoiding the guilt of Omelas by not trying to liberate the child but also not trying to help the city if the child ever were to be liberated. Perhaps, there is nothing they can do but leave. The people in Omelas live pleasantly, with nothing nagging their minds, but those who leave, what nags at their minds?

It is significant that those who leave, leave alone. I believe it speaks to our unwillingness to bring about change on our own. They walk away from the city but they also walk away from the child. They do nothing in an effort to change, but this shouldn’t just be attributed to us as people, but us as a society. In practice, would we actually go through with this? Probably not, this would spark outrage. Why though? Why not exist with perfect happiness? I believe it is because we are all, whether consciously or unconsciously, aware of the fact that justice is not based on equality but on equity. If we can not exist in such a way, we are all subject to the captivity of each other. Just like in Omelas, “they [the people], like the child, are not free.” Their mistake, however is in believing “there is nothing they can do.” Ironically, the views of equity in justice might be more idealistic than the city of Omelas, but it is what we want, true happiness. What Omelas has is unbound happiness, not tied to or rooted in anything but the misery of a single child. What they have “it doesn’t matter”, as long as they are happy, but is this really true happiness?

You’ve change me stupid yellow wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper.

How can I start this? I would start by saying I really enjoy this story.  As I was reading, I notice how the narrator doesn’t have a name she is just a voice and I get the impression that her needs is not being taken seriously by her husband and because of that I believed that has harmed her a lot more than helped. I feel  that had he just listen to her once he may have found out a couple of things about her and maybe could have saved her from harming herself.  Like, for example, When she told him that she is sick, he did not believe her. I assume it is because he is a physician and that he believes illness is something physical and not mental,  and that he may know better than her( who is not a doctor), what is wrong with her.  She express this when she said “John is practical in the extreme”………..”and he scoff’s openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures.” [first page, 6 paragraph]  She notes that this one of the reason that she does “not get well faster.” [first page, 7 paragraph]  I feel that since the narrator is a woman, that her husband and her brother (a physician), both believe that she is naturally inferior to them and since that they are men of high standing that they know more than her about what is wrong with her.  There is no need for her to tell them what she is experiencing because they all know it Just “Hysteria”.

As I continued to read, I can see how obedient she is to her husband. She takes all of the “phosphates or phosphites…..and tonics” [first page 9 paragraph] that he gives to her.  She seems to have a idea of what she needs when she said “Personally I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. In my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus.” [first page 10 and 12 paragraph].  But, she remembers what John said “the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition” [first page, 12 paragraph].  I feel for the wife of John having to be constantly told each time she have a negative feeling or if she she express a want and if it not something he thinks she needs he will tell her not to think of those things for they are bad for her and to focus on getting better.

I believe because he dismissed most of her thoughts about her illness and controlled her environment added more stress and the fact that when she asked him can she be in the room “downstairs that on open on the piazza” John want her to go up to the nursery. I notice how she keeps calling that room a “nursery” as to play on how she felt and how her husband treats her as if she cannot control or even think for herself. Like a child. The room even have bars on the window. As I said before, if he had listened to his wife he would have known that she was not getting better being locked up in that room. Instead of laughing at his wife when she told him about the yellow wall paper, he should had “repaper” the room. Instead he said to her “You know the place is doing you good….and really, dear I don’t care to renovate the house for a three months rental.” [second page,  19 paragraph].  which clearly demonstrates just how much he was in denial of her illness and how he treated her like a child.

I notice that he was spending more time out of the house and left his sister “Jennie” in care of her, at the same time he kept his wife up at the top of the house as to hide her away, and ignore her even more. Telling her to focus on healing herself. I believe that by him not being there, leaving her for long periods of time, even restricting  her from mental simulation, I mean he didn’t even want her to write; all of this has contribute to her metal illness making it become something that changed her from being a sane person to a insane person who eventually hung herself.

I want to add that, to me, that by losing her mind, she had gained a voice because she finally got freedom. She was finally able to express herself to a man who only thought of her as a child.

Girl

Girl is a piece that is poignant in how it points out sexism in a girl’s day-to-day life. It can be inferred, that the story is a dialogue between a girl and her mother or some kind of female mentor. It is striking how casually sexist ideals are taught to young girls as simple rules of the world. It begins by outlining basic routines and tasks that are expected to be completed of a girl and slowly the lessons include more and more mature forms of sexism. “this is how to sew a button; […] this is how to hem a dress […] and so to prevent yourself from looking like [a] slut.” Throughout the piece there is a constant repetition of “the slut you are so bent on becoming” which speaks to a greater issue in society where a woman’s sexuality is seen as inherently sinful.

There are prominent examples of sexism that are taught to the girl in the story such as, “this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you” and even dark examples like, “this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child.” However, I find that the most telling examples throughout the story are the ones that bring up the microaggressions against women. “Don’t eat fruits on the street-flies will follow you,” “this is how you smile,” “this is how to behave in the presence of men who you don’t know very well,” and “you are not a boy.” these are some of the lessons that stood out the most. “Don’t eat fruits on the street-flies will follow you” is telling a girl to stop doing something so that something else she has no control over does not happen, a girl can’t control if the flies do or do not follow her, but she must stop eating fruit in an effort to stop them, she shouldn’t tempt the flies or attract them. This relates to rape culture and goes back to how women’s sexuality is seen as sinful, how women dress or how they act can imply that “they are looking for something” or that “they wanted to be raped in the first place.” The mentor in the story is teaching the girl this, and though the mentor is incorrect in following this logic, it comes from a place of wanting to protect, “this is how you prevent a tragedy in our current culture” might have been a better title for the lessons. The teachings even come down to things as minimal as how to smile, women’s actions aren’t just policed through their sexuality but their behavior as well. A women must behave a certain way in order to be perceived as a certain kind of woman, her thoughts and words are out the door if her mannerisms don’t reflect it. The mentor’s lessons are all given an effort to protect and “this is how to behave in the presence of men who you don’t know very well” implies this heavily. Men are seen as people to be feared and are immediately unworthy of trust, women must behave a certain way so as to avoid the wrath of a man whose mind and ways of acting are still unknown, a woman’s behavior is a preventive course of action. The ultimate lesson taught in the story is the reminder that the girl learning all this is not a boy. It seems quite obvious, like there is no need in pointing it out, but this single fact is the reason this story exists in the first place. “You are not a boy” and therefore are not allowed to act as you are, this is the difference between people who are required to live by guidelines and those who are not.