The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

I think that this book, depending on your life situation, may be something you’ll like, or dislike. And the speed when you’re reading it, too, may depend on your life situation as well. I find that I spent more time pondering than actually reading it, hence it took me quite a while to finish the book, even though I’ve read it last year.

This book tells about the new republic of Gilead, a dystopia. We look at the life inside of it through the eyes of a handmaid named Offred. Or, it’s an alias. Although there’s a rumour that her real name was June, I do believe that her real name was June, even after having read it for the second time. I’ve highlighted quite a few sentences on my e-reader. And this is one of my explanations why one’s (dis)likes about this book may depend on one’s life situation. Hence, highlighting sentences got a few reasons:

  1. The sentences speak to you.
  2. Nice for quotations.
  3. To help with review.

The first one on the list will say that the sentences that I just highlighted during re-reading it were not highlighted previously because my life situation was not the same back then.

These are my new highlights:

Chapter 24:

“Men are sex machine, said Aunt Lydia, and not much more. They only want one thing. You must learn to manipulate them, for your own good. Lead them around by the nose; That is a metaphor. It’s nature’s way. It’s God’s device. It’s the way things are.”

Chapter 28:

“I said she didn’t have that problem herself anymore, since she’d decided to prefer women, and as far as I could see, she had no scruples about stealing them as borrowing them when she felt like it. She said it was different because the balance of power was equal between women, so sex was an even-steven transaction.“

“I couldn’t afford to lose you.”

Chapter 35:

”Love? Said the Commander. That’s better. That’s something I know about. We can talk about that. Falling in love, I said. Falling into it, we all did, then, one way or another. How could he have made such light of it? Sneered even. As if it was trivial for us, a frill, a whim. It was, on the contrary, heavy going. It was the central thing; It was the way you understood yourself; If it never happened to you, not ever, you would be like a mutant, a creature from outer space. Everyone knew that.”

— From here I got the sense that the Commander is robot-like, or that Offred made him sound like a robot.

“The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love.”

”The kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done; and you would know to why your friends had been evasive about it, at the time.”

“How long were you supposed to mourn, and what did they say? Make your life a tribute to the loved one. And he was the loved one.”

— This time, I see it as something to quote and ponder. See it as something that whenever it’s in your hand, it brings danger, but it’s not because you’re bad at it, exactly because you’re an expert at it and know what you do:

”I sit at the table, eating creamed corn with a fork. I have a fork and a spoon, but never a knife. When there’s meat they cut it up for me ahead of itme, as if I’m lacking manual skills or teeth. I have both, however. That’s why I’m not allowed a knife.”

Chapter 40:

”Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.”

It took me a few days to finish reading it because I’ve spent more time pondering than actually reading it. Because of my current life situation, this book could have created a bad mindset for me. Now I feel “book-hangover”; If such word even exists.

This self created republic is not just a dystopia, but this somehow happened in every day life. During reading I thought of,”Welcome to republic of Gilead, where love is a fool thing, men are sex machine, women are sex dolls and are far below them!” — but it’s an actual world, right? 

The Handmaid’s Tale
Genres: ,
Page Count: 324
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known the United States. She is placed in the household of the Commander, Fred Waterford - her assigned name, Offred, means of Fred. She has only one function: to breed.