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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Attwood

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

A story set in a near-distant dystopian future where a totalitarian Christian government has taken over and taken away all of women's rights (or so I understood). It follows the idea that sex is only for reproduction and when wives are unable to reproduce they are assigned a "handmaid" who produce for them - as a large portion of the population has gone sterile (including men, however the women are blamed and punished for this). 

Our narrator is a Handmaid, Offred (Literally Of-fred). In this society a Handmaid takes on the name "of" followed by the name of the patron figure of the household they are assigned to. Her real name is never disclosed, however hints it to being "June." At first, Offred is a very apathetic narrator. She simply does not care about the present and makes lots of references to the life she lived before she became a handmaid. She also refers to the words of "Aunt Lydia" - a member of an agency which teaches women to be Handmaids - quite a lot. We learn a lot about the world from Offred - such as the singing of public domain songs is forbidden, that she had a brief affair with a man named Luke before he divorced his wife and marrying her - however she focuses on details a lot. Why does she focus on details? She focuses on details in her narration as a coping mechanism; she wants her old life back but there is absolutely no way of that happening. She hates the life she leads now and loses herself in the immense detail of her surroundings to escape the reality she's living. Throughout the entire novel she thinks about Luke, she tells us how she and Luke attempted to leave the country using fake identity and papers but they were subdued - which is how she came to be a handmaid. However she's so lost in the thought of Luke and her past to the point where when the driver of the household she's assigned to makes a sexual advance on her she deludes herself into believe that she's kissing Luke in the body of Nick (the driver). She sometimes even tries to convince herself that Luke is still alive and will come to rescue her, even though this completely contradicts her suspicion of Luke having been shot upon their attempt to leave the country. But as all dystopian novels go, there is always a conspiracy to discover. And of course Offred discovers them - and you can see where all this goes. But this novel is different, it doesn't end like all of them do, the last 100 pages are completely unexpected of a dystopian novel. But they are beautiful, as are the rest of the pages in this book.


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Source: http://aisforamaretto.blogspot.ca/2013/03/the-handmaids-tale-by-margaret-attwood.html