This book is getting so good I am towards the end of it already!!!
The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood parts III – VIII will be discussed in this post.
During the night, when Offred aka June has all the time in the world to wonder in her room, she likes to think of her old life, her past. How things were before it all started. She likes to think of times of when she and Moira would hang out. They used to talk about paper dues and stuff like that. “In half an hour, I said. I had a paper due the next day. “(37). June used to work in a publishing house, which she enjoyed very much, nothing compared to life now.
“I would like to believe this is a story I am telling. I need to believe it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are only stories have a better chance. If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off. It isn’t a story I’m telling. It’s also a story I’m telling, in my head, as I go along. Tell rather than write, because I have nothing to write with and writing is in any case forbidden. (39)
In this life, her name is Offred. She thinks to herself a lot, she speaks to herself in the confinement of her own mind where no one else will hear. These times are tough for someone who used to be so independent, someone who worked for herself, who used to write papers and read them over and over and over again. She rather tell stories to herself because in a way that is not forbidden, Writing is forbidden, and she dare not even look at a pen. She envies those who can do so. Because being able to write and read means to have some sort of freedom. Women can’t, Handmaid’s can’t. They are trapped in this era that prevents them from doing any work that may improve their brain skills and make them independent again.
Apart from Handmaids and Marthas there are Econowives, for those who don’t have enough money i guess.
“The mother; she carries a small black jar. From the size of the jar you can tell how old it was when it foundered, inside her, flowed to its death. Two or three months, too young to tell whether or not it was an Unbaby. The older ones and those that die at birth have boxes.” (44)
Birth rates are very low in this place. Either they cannot procreate or miscarriages happen. Population has been declining for a while and those who suspect are pregnant are cared for to make sure the baby survives. This is why Handmaids are there. To give these families babies that they cannot create themselves. But of course it hurts them every time, It is like getting your hopes up and then getting them crushed. If a handmaid has a miss carriage, it is automatically her fault.
“We pause out of respect, while they go by. I wonder if Ofglen feels what I do, pain like a stab, in the belly. Beneath her veil the first one scowls at us. One of the others turns aside, spits on the sidewalk. The Econowives do not like us.” (44)
I do not know exactly why they do not like the handmaids, but I do know that Marthas do not like the handmaids because they think that they are degrading themselves. Something like a “streetwalker” for better wording.
“Nick looks up and begins to whistle. Then he says,”Nice walk?” I nod, but do not answer with my voice. He isn’t supposed to speak to me. “(45)
Nick is the driver I believe, He is something else as well, he seems fishy to me but that will be left for another part. Men are not supposed to speak to the handmaids unless it is their commander. I think Nick is intrigued by Offred. He wants to know her, he is lonely and now he sees this woman who is not the wife of the commander and who in a way replies to him. Will he try something more?
Every month a handmaid has to go to the doctor to get tested for pregnancy and disease. While she is undressed at the doctor’s office, from waist down with a paper covering her from waist up, the doctor makes her an interesting proposal.
“I could help you, I’ve helped others. The door is locked. No one will come in. They’ll never know it isn’t his.” (60)
There has been stories told about how things like this happen because the commanders are sterile or something similar. Even though the word sterile is forbidden to say or even think about. They usually just blame the handmaid. They rather blame them for not getting pregnant than for the man not being able to. I think that that is just simply unfair for these women to be blamed for something that they have no control of. They do not even have a choice nor opinion in this matter. They get used for their wombs and who knows what they do to her afterwards.
After a handmaid gives birth, the commander’s wives are in control of the names. Janine had a beautiful baby girl and her commander’s wife named the baby Angela. Everyone is happy because of the arrival of this baby.
“”Maybe we have one, soon.” She says, shyly. By we she means me. Cora depends on me, she hopes, and I am the vehicle of her hope.”(135)
Every house patiently awaits for a handmaid that can give them a baby. These women look like as if they are desperate to have this baby in their arms. Maybe if Offred gets pregnant, everyone in that house will be happy and smile more often. It all sounds so depressing. By Offred having a healthy child, Cora hopes to spoil him or her someday. The thought of a little kid around is something that they die for.