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Old 20th Jul 2008, 10:16   #46
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Join Date: 25 Oct 2006
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Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

I am so glad I took a break from Booker-2008-speculation and read this book. At first I wondered whether the coda was necessary and was a bit annoyed by it, especially when it explained the naming system:
"Offred" gives no clue, since, like "Ofglen" and "Ofwarren," it was a patronymic, composed of the possessive preposition and the first name of the gentleman in question.
This seems condescending to me as the reader, but isn't it possible Atwood actually meant it to show condescension of the professor towards his audience? No, I don't think so either, but the rest of the book is so bloody good that I will forgive her that one.

The importance of the coda to me is that it shows that Gilead did not remain. It is history and Gilead existed for a relatively short period. The symposium is held in 2195. I think the Handmaid's tale is set in the present, i.e. 1984. There are indications in the coda that the era was finished by 2045. I deduce this by the discussion of the impossibility of the tapes being forgeries, which could not have occurred within the last 150 years. (I do not quite know if that reasoning is sound, but it feels right).

I agree with JS about the commas, but again, I'm forgiving her.

The most frightening thing to me was the false justifications used by those now in power. Rapes and murders were the plight of women before Gilead. The women should be happy with their lot now as they are safe (as long as they are submissive, which isn't stated). Our narrator knows better, but future generations will no doubt believe the picture painted for them. This is why I get frightened by 911 being presented as justification for how some people in the US think about countries and people other than their own. Yikes.

The book screams out the advice: Act as soon as you are uncomfortable and question what you are being told by those in power. The 80s were a particularly non-questioning time in the good ol' US of A if I remember correctly.
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