The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Published: March 16th 1998 by Anchor Books (first published 1985)
Someone told me “If you want to know what the next four years is going to be like, just read the handmaids tale!”
The same week I find the George Orwell novel “1984” on the bestseller list. There’s clearly a collective panic going on. If it’s rooted in fear or fight, I guess, is up to how you feel about it.
This is the first Atwood book I’ve read and I love finding authors that adds philosophy and beautiful writing to the story.
When the book was published society was going through changes much as they are these days. Conservatives are pushing the christian values, women’s rights are under attack and minorities are being oppressed. And the Handmaids tale, though written over 30 years ago, feels eerily accurate as a forewarning.
“Sanity is a valuable possession, I hoard it the way people once hoarded money, I save it so I will have enough, when time comes.”
The story opens straight into a dystopian time behind large walls were women are no longer individuals. The women are baby machines in uniforms, their hair hidden and with no personalized anything. But as they say, they can take away freedom, they can take away possessions, but they can never take away your thoughts and dreams.
We are let into Offreds mind (even the names are given as a part of the uniform, passed on between people) and in her mind, though her eyes is how we get to explore this world. If you are conservative, you might find she is way off, but if you’re progressive, you might find her not off enough. She is somewhere in the middle, trapped by fear and insecurity.
“I try to conjure, to raise my own spirits, from wherever they are. I need to remember what they look like.”
If you’re not into the political aspect of it all, then read it simply because it is beautifully written. Certain sentences are so poetic that they made me all warm and fuzzy inside. Lines like:
“I am a blank, here, between parentheses. Between other people”
“I want to see what can be seen, of him, take him in, memorize hi, save him so I can life on the image later.”