Category Archives: People’s Choice Posts

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.  

 

Wait…What?

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

In the Night chapter, Offred is in her room thinking about what had happen earlier in the evening when the commander invited her to his study. I like the way she had described how she felt standing in front of the commander’s door. How she explained what “to want” means. When she said “To want is to have a weakness” [136]. And how she was curious as to knowing what was his weakness.

I found it interesting that his “weakness” was a part of what make us human. What he wanted was something that, up until now, I had not pay attention to, was the same thing  that Offred wanted; he wanted human contact. He wanted human contact that was not dictated to him. I had not realized that in this world the men loses a lot too. It is funny how this new world have taken away freedoms from both men and women. I think that he miss having a female friend to talk to. He wanted a woman’s company other than for procreation reasons. But he also, miss some thing as simple as a real kiss. It was nice to see that he said “Hello” to Offred when she walked into his room. Offred had thought to herself that saying “Hello” was “the old form of greeting” [137] that she haven’t heard in a while. To her, by him saying the simple word as “Hello” “seems out of place, comical even, a flip backwards in time, a stunt.” [137]. Then she realized that she “can think of nothing appropriate to say in return” [137].

By him inviting Offred to his room, we get a glimpse at what type of man he is. I believe he miss they way things were. I feel this way because when had asked Offred to play Scrabble with him and then he told her to “go home” and asks her if she will “be all right, as if the stairway is a dark street.” [139]. It like he wishes that he could go back in time where such things as seeing a woman off to her house, were the norm. then when Offred was about to leave he say to her “thank you…For the game…I want you to kiss me” [139]. When she gave him a peck on the lips, he he smile in a sheepish way and say “Not like that,…As if you mean it” [140]. His reaction to her first kiss is telling. It is as if he really miss having  a real kiss. It has me asking myself, does he love his wife? I guess that mates are chosen and not picked freely. So, if that is the case, then by his actions, This life is not fully geared to make men happy either.

It seem like this new Government only wants procreation and nothing else. I guess this is some what of keeping people inline with the rules and to not want to go against their oppressors. It also separates everybody, by having a color coded hierarchy way of life. But, now that this  happen, I feel like Offred, it is a comical situation. Here is a man who is head of the house hold and is allow certain freedoms, as reading, writing, and having a job, only wants something so simple, as wanting “To be played with, to be gently kissed” [144]. I understand how Offred wanted to laugh when she went back into her room. It is funny how men can create a world that is so cruel to live in and take away all of the simple joys that makes us human. To make laws that oppresses a whole gender and then at the same time want to break these laws by sneaking around. It is funny. Offred saw the Commander’s weakness. I hope that she realized that she has the same weakness and uses her new found power over the Commander wisely.

Class Discussion #8

“I agreed with Imani when she said

“Another piece of evidence that the lack of freedom is like an elephant in the room is that these women are under watched 24/7. When they’re allowed outside they MUST walk in pairs , not in a group, but pairs, the have guardians ans angels who watch them and Aunt Sara and Elizabeth and on page 18 the narrator refers to Nick as an Eye. She literally paranoid wherher if he’s part of the Commander protecting the girls , lack of freedom .

I agreed with this because as I was reading this I was thinking of the exact same thing. It is sad that these women who are Handmaids are force to live with a married couple only to be use as a baby machine. Then to have to deal with the fact that the Wife of the house does not welcome them and that they have to constantly worry about their life living with these people. Offred had a family of her own and it is a shame that she is not allow to raise her own family but to be en-slave to another family only because she can bare kids. It is also sad how the women have a bunch of people that are hire just to spy on them. The Handmaids even have to worry about it each other. Freedom In this world is very limited and Imani talks about this in her blog. This is why I pick Imani.

Living in a World with No Freedom

 

I was replacing this.

Butter is Hope

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood is unwinding and revealing the uglier side of a Handmaid’s life, exclusively through Offred’s thoughts and heartbreaking memories.

Hope

I think the saddest part I read from this week’s assigned parts was reading of how Offred stole a small portion of butter from her bland meal and moisturized her face with the melted remnants. She saved this small piece of butter in her shoe, smuggling it under the eyes she constantly feels and knows are watching her. This act symbolized the hopeful fire still burning within her; fueling her with small amounts of optimism that she would see the day she’d be thankful she kept her skin oiled and replenished. “As long as we do this, butter our skin to keep it soft, we can believe that we will some day get out…be touched again, in love or desire”, (Atwood 97). We also see “hope” in other forms; the hope and anticipation for a Handmaid to bear the Wive’s and Commander’s children and be “fruitful”; Offred’s hopes that her daughter is still breathing; the hope living within every Handmaid to never see red coming from their bodies, as this symbolizes failure. The color Red takes on a darker definition in this way as it alludes to a miscarriage of the fetus; a horrific result for any Handmaid.

“Cleansing” and Betrayal

Offered’s flashbacks of Aunt Lydia and her discrete encounters with Moira occur at the “Red Center” where the Handmaid’s are figuratively put into washing machines; reeducated and conditioned through religious views that prepare and resize them before taking on their new, vital roles in the Gilead society. These women are not only plucked of their old ways and forced into the constrictions that from now on would be permanently placed on them, but they are also programmed into being against their former lifestyles. Through these extremely religious teachings, they are instructed to repent, or “testify” regarding previous traumatic experiences like rape; taught to believe that women are the cause of men who rape. “Her fault, her fault, her fault”, the Handmaid’s chant as Janine recounts her past gang rape experience on page 73. This scene was sickening to read, as they were basically practicing “slut-shaming” and instilling within each other that being a women alone is cause for being raped. (“Slut-shaming” is a contemporary term that is defined in the Oxford Living Dictionary as: The action or fact of stigmatizing a woman for engaging in behaviour judged to be promiscuous or sexually provocative). Eventually these women succumb to the taunting shame and assimilate in believing that they deserved to be rape victims, as a way to relieve them of the brutal punishments for any women not willing to conform.

The Ceremony

Reading through the slow paced scene of the ceremony left my mouth agape as I couldn’t believe how they carried out the act of impregnating the Handmaids. Offred recounts almost every aspect of the scene as she acknowledges random details like the rug, the brass box near the Commander’s chair, the distinct aroma of tobacco that drifts into the “sitting room” along with the Wife, who Offred always refers to by Serena Joy; solely in her thoughts of course. I believe this is Offred’s way of preparing for the act that was to follow; the pleasureless act of fornication, (barely), between Offred and the Commander. While this act was absent of intimacy completely, it also wasn’t rape: “Nothing is going on here that I haven’t signed up for…This is what I chose”, (Atwood 94). The Wife fulfills yet another purposeless position as she sits opposite the Commander near Offred’s head, grasping her hands. This was “serious business”; no feelings or personal attachments. Procreation is now a large business and the Handmaid’s were the workers; volunteered unwillingly and exploited for what they were able to do with their bodies. Treated exactly like “containers”, the value they held only existed inside them; specifically in their wombs.

Below is a better explanation of the term “slut-shaming” for those who were unfamiliar with the context of it:

“Some examples of circumstances wherein women are slut-shamed include violating dress code policies by dressing in perceived sexually provocative ways, requesting access to birth control,having premarital, casual, or promiscuous sex, engaging in prostitution,or when being victim blamed for being raped or otherwise sexually assaulted.” 

Cited From:

Wikipedia contributors. “Slut-shaming.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 Nov. 2017. Web. 7 Nov. 2017.

Red

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

In this story, chapter one in particular, amazes me on how laws and the life of women can change in an instant; from being free to do what one wants to having to say “we weren’t allowed out, except for our walks, twice daily, two by two” [4]. How freedom can be snatched away by other human beings who, like all humans, should know better. To constrained a group of people and lock them up in a gymnasium against their will and the only thing  that they can do in defiance is to “learned to lip-read….watching each other’s mouth. In this way we exchanged names, from bed to bed”[4].

In Chapter two, I see that the color red is significant. They way the narrator talks about it is intriguing. Because, when she is putting on the red gloves, she “pull them onto my hands, finger by finger” [8]. It is like she is slowly transforming from her true inner self to the color red itself. Red is becoming her fingers. The shoes are red, these are her new toes and so is her dress, which becomes her new body.

It is as if red is her only identity now since in chapter one her name was nothing more than a mere whisper among lip-readers. The color red is louder than a whisper and it doesn’t make a sound. Red makes her seen. The color red defines her. Red is the mark of her status in this new world.

Once she puts on her uniform, she is less than the woman she was outside her uniform. In this uniform she is a machine. She cannot think. She is even more restricted now and have to follow a set of rules. She is not even a person. Her white head veil blocks her sight and keeps her from being seen. As if the only important thing to see is the color red and her body. Her body, because she is a handmaid and her main job is to bear children.

Her red outfit screams that loud and clear. Her red outfit is “the color of blood” [8]. But, blood is the only thing that the handmaids don’t want to see. The leaders of that new world wants the handmaids in red, but if they have their periods and is not pregnant then they are in trouble.  The narrator is no longer an individual. She is no longer her own woman. She is now red. Red is now she. Red is the color of her umbrella.

Red, is also, in her new name Offred. Red is so much of who she is in the beginning of this book. I wonder, will she make the color red her friend and use this color as a way to survive this terrible time in her life. Also, if she lives to see the end of this way of life, would she frame her red outfit and use it as a reminder to herself of how she once lived as a color and how precious life and freedom are. Will red become her favorite color?

Class Discussion #7: “People’s Choice Posts” for ‘Station Eleven,’ Parts 7-9

We’ve finally finished Station Eleven, and here’s your chance to reflect on the entire novel and your classmates’ responses to it.

Read through all reading response blogs for Station Eleven, Parts 7-9, choose a favorite post, and explain your rationale for choosing it. Then share the post/excerpt/rationale by “commenting” here on this post. Don’t forget to link to the post you are citing (you can now hyperlink comments rather than just copying/pasting the URL: give it a shot!).

Comments should be made no later than Wednesday, 10/25, and the one with the most votes will earn the coveted “People’s Choice” honor! As always, I’m looking forward to seeing what you choose, and why. Happy reading 🙂