Upon reading the introduction to The Handmade’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, I was a little confused to the situation described but I learned that it is about the protagonist “Offred.” The introduction itself seems to be written from Atwood’s perspective, but the story itself so far looks to be first-person from the un-named handmaid.
I found it really surprising that the society of Gilead changed signs’ text to pictures instead. Although not everyone may understand the language being presented, people may perceive pictures in a different way and mistake things so I’m not sure what was the intent here. I think it could be possibly a law in their society. The laws may include something about color, or it may be a societal norm at the time, since red seems to come up frequently with the handmaids as well as black frequently with the Guardians and the Commanders.
The laws also must restrict the information they get from “the outside world” as well since the main character stated, “I’m ravenous for news, any kind of news; even if its false news, it must mean something.“ (20) On the same page, she mentions that some of the Guardians are “Eyes Incognito.” This shows that maybe the handmaids aren’t trusted by the authority at the time. The main character states, “It is through a field of such valid objects that I must pick my way, every day and in every way. I put a lot of effort into making such distinctions. I need to make them. I need to be very clear, in my own mind.”(33) I think in current society where most decisions are already made or are restricted for handmaids, she wants to have her own free will and make her own decisions as best as she possibly can. Ofglen, the other handmaid she was paired off with, said nothing to the suspected Eye incognito interpreter at the market. I got the impression that Ofglen may have much more information and experience in the current society than the main character.
The main character repeatedly mentions Luke, who must have been her husband. Up to now in the story, not much is said about her husband besides the him being gone. Could it have possibly been the laws about the handmaids’ that had anything to do with that? The main character reminisces longingly about the freedoms she had before, simple things that were overlooked but everyone longed for in the current state of society. She said, “Such freedom now seems almost weightless” (24). With all the restrictions on her life currently, I would agree.