Monday, September 13, 2010

The Handmaid's Tale Readalong

"The moment of betrayal is the worst, the moment when you know beyond any doubt that you've been betrayed: that some other human being has wished you that much evil.

It was like being in an elevator cut loose at the top.  Falling, Falling, and not knowing when you will hit."

Offred is talking here about the moment her family was trying to cross over the border into Canada and are discovered but she might as well be talking about what happened to all women in the new society.  Certainly there were some men that didn't fare well in the change but we really haven't seen a single woman that has fared well.  Even the Commander's Wives, who certainly appear to have it the best, are prisoners of their homes and, if they are unable to bear children, have to put up with having a Handmaid in their home and watch their husbands having sex with the Handmaids in their own beds while they also in the bed.

In these chapters we also find out that some of the women, particularly the older women, have been sent to The Colonies where they are on cleanup detail.  That is to say, they are exposed to radiation and have to clean up dead bodies.   Others are made to go into prostitution, something that is officially not allowed but which is an option for punishment.  Any of these women, as well as Handmaids that don't give birth to a viable child soon enough, have a very limited lifespan.

Since this book has all along felt like it was showing me a very real possible future, the idea that there are women out there already clamoring that a woman's place is in the home, looking after their man and having babies alarms me more than ever.

Thanks to Trish for hosting this read-along and to Margaret Atwood who has given me so much to think about in this book!


  1. I agree - what a book! Atwood is so creative and a terrific writer.

  2. It's crazy about how the possibility of something like this happening in our society could so easily happen. Scary stuff! I am really enjoying the readalong!