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Old 1st Jul 2008, 15:12   #20
laughs in the face of fear
kirsty's Avatar
Join Date: 9 Aug 2007
Location: Oxford
Posts: 991
Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

Beth, yes, I agree with your view of the feminism in the book.

Offred/June is never going to be the most reliable of narrators because she is still obviously processing what is going on herself, so if she can't fully make sense of what is going on around her, then neither can we. Also, with regards to the lack of detail about how the regime came to be, perhaps even she doesn't fully know?

Also, I agree with Becca about the future of Gilead being more horrifying when people still retain a memory of the old world. I think the other horrifying thing about Gilead is that there seem to be no chance of a resistance building. Those who hold power will protect it at all costs, the Eyes are everywhere, and there is no leniency for anyone who is caught doing something wrong.

In some ways we can compare the situation of women in ultra-fundamentalist Muslim states. I don't mean that to sound glib, but think about it: there are countries NOW where women are stoned to death for being raped, because *they* committed adultery (in Gilead only women can be infertile). Women can't drive in some countries, and where they are allowed to, they have to have a family male in the car with them. They lose rights to their children. They are killed for bringing dishonour to their family by being attracted to the wrong person. In that light, Gilead isn't so very far away from some things that are happening to women in the world now, let alone when THT was written in the 80s. So while I've read other people over the years saying that the feminist aspects are cack-handed or overly simplified, in many ways they're really not, and perhaps that's the warning we can take from it.

Obviously, the situations aren't exact - part of the horror of THT is that there was a "normal" society that has been destroyed. Just a feminist-y though.

The thing I would like to know is what countries outside the US think of Gilead... international political ramifications. Which it's not the place of the novel to shed light on, but just a thought I had. For example, if they'd fled to Canada then presumably life would have carried on as usual. Is the military might of Gilead so strong that Canada didn't try to intervene? Or is that what all the men are off fighting about? Trying to protect and expand Gilead's borders?
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
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