The first two parts of The Handmaid’s Tale raised a few questions for me . Who are the Angels? Did the war lead to the anarchy rule of the country ? What does the term waste not want not mean? Is the narrator a wife too ? Or a handmaiden? Can one be both , a handmaiden and a wife ?
From reading the first two parts it’s clear that these women, and even the Guardians don’t posses any Freedom. For example, on page 4,last paragraph the narrator mentions that her and the other girls from the Red Center slept in an gymnasium on old U.S. Army cots and they weren’t allowed to speak or touch one another , it States “We learned to whisper almost without sound. In the semidarkness we could stretch out our arms, when the Aunts weren’t looking, and touch each other’s hand across space. We learned to lipread, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other’s mouth.” What kind of place are they in ? What government rule is going on ? This is like confined imprisonment! Their freedom of speech and human interaction is being taken away, it’s our human rights.
Another part of the novel that reflects that these women have no freedom is on page 16, where the narrator and I’m assuming the main wife is having their first interaction. We learn that the narrator is replacing a former wife (so is the narrator a wife or handmaid) and the ‘main’ wife stated, “As for my husband, she said, he’s just that. My husband. I want that to be perfectly clear . Till death do us part. It’s final.” What kind of wive isn’t allowed to be with her own husband? In my opinion it’s either the Commander has one wife or removes the jealous one. After reading the chapter I started brainstorming and put two-and-two together. Here on page 16 is clear that the wife is territorial over her man, and the narrator doesn’t know why the wife before her was replaced and on page 11 we read that the narrator over heard the Martha’s over saying, “Stillborn it was. Or, stabbed her with a knitting needle, right in the belly. Jealousy, it must have been, eating her up..” well we do know that the widen knits, so maybe the wife before the narrator slept with the Commander and gotten pregnant and the wife was jealous and poisoned or killed her. I might be overthinking the text but I think somethings up with the wife and she’s not fond of her husband having multiple sleeping partners. This gives the other wives lack of freedom as well. One, they probably don’t want to be part of his hold and on top of that they can’t share the man who they’re all tending too.
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, they have guardians and angels who watch them and Aunt Sara and Elizabeth, whoever they are and on page 18 the narrator refers to Nick as an Eye. She, the narrator is literally paranoid whether if he’s part of the Commander protecting the girls , lack of freedom .