Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Recently Read: The Handmaid's Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood
Genre: Adult Fiction
Year Published: 1986
Status: Stand Alone
Page Count: 311
Rating: 5/5

The Handmaid's Tale was my first Atwood book. I had some experience with her poetry, but this was her first piece of fiction I had read. This was the one I had heard the most about so I decided it was a good place to start, and I think I made the right decision.

This novel is narrated by Offred, who is a handmaid to a Commander, one of the most powerful men in her world. The United States has been plagued by nuclear plant spills and war, meaning that most of the population can no longer have children and the birth rate is steadily declining. Offred's job as a handmaid is to get pregnant with the Commander's children. Offred is of the first generation of women in this world, she was ripped away from her job, husband, and daughter, just like all of the fertile women in the country, and sent to be taught how to be a handmaid.

This book was very difficult to read at times because of the awful world Offred is forced to live in. There are a few lines in this book spoken by the men in charge that just make my blood boil. Atwood's world seems so real, and her narrator is so brutally honest, its hard to put this book down. I was not even half way through the novel when I knew that I would want to reread this book.

This is such an important book, and raises so many questions about how our society treats women and gender equality. In Offred's world, the Aunts, who are older women in charge of oppressing the women who will be handmaids, say that this system was invented to protect women from rape and sexual exploitation, but all the system does is exploit them for their fertility and  take away all of their rights. Because this system is ran in such ways, it makes it very believable and plausible.

This book touches on many interesting topics, such as oppression and how people begin to internalize hate and oppress themselves. Perhaps the most thought provoking part of this novel is the last section which is structured to look like a Historical Notes section. This section questions the way we view history, and people, and objects of the past, and how the patriarchy is still in effect today.

It's hard to discuss this book without discussing it in depth. If you have read this, leave me a comment below if you want to discuss it, I would love to. But I will say this... this book was greatly written and makes a huge impact. I highly recommend this book, and I will be looking to pick up more Atwood in the very near future.

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