I know A Few Things, But I Have One Question

In The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.

It seems like Ignorance is bliss In the Republic of Gilead. I have come to realize this on page [8], when Offred says “I try not to think too much. Like other things now, thought must be rationed. There’s a lot that doesn’t bear thinking about. Thinking can hurt your chances, and I intend to last.” As if, the sign of intelligence in women is forbidding. I know that Offred, herself, did not said that thought is forbidding, but her saying “Thinking can hurt your chances, and I intend to last” [8]. Let’s me know that In order to survive women must not think, but to just do what is told to them.

As, I continue with this story, I had realize that they don’t allow women to read. Instead of using words in signs, they only use pictures as signs. Even their coins are nothing, but mere pictures to show what they are used for.This is shown when Offred is listening to Rita while she tell her what she must get from the store and When Rita is through with the list of things, She hands Offred the money. Then Offred says “I take the tokens from Rita’s outstretched hand. They have pictures on them, of things they can be exchanged for” [11]. I assumed that the reason why signs with words are replaced by signs with just pictures, is because words can inspire thought which can create the need to overthrow the government that is now Controlling Gilead.This reminds me of what I have learned about the Reconstruction Era. In the Reconstruction Era, slaves where freed and a short time later the Freedmen Bureau had helped ex-slaves to build up schools to educated themselves. Ex-slaves where learning how to read and educating themselves. The southern whites were against ex-slaves learning how to read and becoming educated, because, they felt that by doing so, they would lose even more control of ex-slaves and their own property. In Gilead, that is what it seem like they are doing.They are treating women as property and to keep the women in her place, she can no longer be educated.

It seem like the Government of Gilead wants to turn their women into mindless thoughtless beings who will only do what they are told.To add injury to this insult, all of the citizens of Gilead Uniforms are color coded. As, to say, you are what the color of your clothes represents. I think that all of women colors represents some type of servitude job and can determined everything you do in life and how you should be treated by others. Even something as small as to walking out of the front door or the back door of a house can be determine by the color of a women’s dress. Offred Is a Handmaid and her dress is red. She leaves out the back door to go shopping.

The one thing that slip pass me when reading this story, is, when does the Commander comes into Offred’s room? I understand that she is not suppose to read and there is evidence of that inside the story. I get that she is not suppose to think and I understand why thinking is forbidding, but it seems to skip over when the Commander is with her. I assume that he is with her at night when she is dreaming about her past. I feel this way because on page [52] Offred says “I wanted to feel Luke lying besides me. I have them, these attacks of the past, like faintness, a wave sweeping over my head….They also serve who only stand and wait. Or lie down and wait.” It is like who is she waiting for? Are her dreams being use as a way to keep her mind off of what is happening to her body? Or, maybe, he had came to her when she was dreaming about her daughter? The reason I say this is because when she dreamed of her daughter, her daughter started crying in the dream. Then Offred says “we come apart, my arms are held, and edges go dark and nothing is left but a little window” [75].The whole dream is sad and I wonder is it sad because he is there with her. The part where her daughter and she “comes apart” is that when everything ends? However, On page [37] Offred says “The night is mine, my own time, to do with as I will, as long as I am quiet.” But is it really hers or does it belong to her in spirit. Whereas she can fly outside of her body into her own little world.? I guess as I continue on reading they might make it clear as to when the Commander is suppose to see her.

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  1. Pingback: English 2001: Intro. to Literature I: Fiction

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