Is her duty to reproduce?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, introduces us the protagonist Offred. Offred is a “handmaid” and her job is to slide those “DMs” to the commander. All jokes aside I find this to be a bit peculiar how these women are trying to get with one guy. This reminds me of the television series, The Real Housewives or the Bachelorette. But in this case, Offred is trying to grab the attention of the commander and try to produce a child with him. Maybe Offred is trying to change the laws from the inside because the laws seems pretty corrupted.

When I first started reading this, I couldn’t believe that her job was to try to conceive a child with someone else’s husband. “If only they would look. If only we could talk to them. Something could be exchanged, we thought, some deal made, some tradeoff, we still had our bodies. That was our fantasies” (Atwood 4). Who are these angels? Are they prison guards? Are these women treated as slaves?

Reading the synopsis got me think about these questions and shocked me because when they said they switched words to pictures on signs, is actually insane. Not only do these women have to fight for the spot next to the commander, they’re also being mistreated by the laws. I continued reading the synopsis and Offred once had a husband and now it is all gone. I am assuming that she lost her husband because of the new laws, and was forced to being a “handmaid.”

We learn that in chapter 4, that guardians cannot do any sexual activity until they become angels. In a way, we get to know where people kind of stand in the new society they are in. Offred is mostly on the bottom, then mistress, guardian, angel, wife, and then the commander. In a way, it is interesting that she has to work her way back up and potentially try to gain back her freedom. This new society they live in now seems like it is ruled under a tyrant because in chapter 6, those who had abortions, were executed. The quote really stuck to me: “This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary” (33). It got me thinking that this is something they’re going to have to get used to and have to “kiss up” to hierarchy. So far the book has gotten me pretty riled up and excited about how Offred will be able to escape the laws. Or will Offred submit to the laws and give in her body.

One thought on “Is her duty to reproduce?

  1. Jill Belli

    What is the “synopsis” that you keep referring to? You are supposed to be reading the novel (and do a close reading of it) …

    Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “I find this to be a bit peculiar how these women are trying to get with one guy”? Are you suggesting that everyone desires, of their own free will, to be with the Commander? Does Offred “want” to be with him??


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