The Handmaid’s Tale
Ms. Hen has wanted to read this novel for a long time, and she finally got around to it. She thinks it is the perfect book to read for the political mood in the country. She understands that there is going to be a TV show, which she has not seen, but would like to. She understands how this novel would work as a TV show rather than a film, since there are many avenues that the story could go down.
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, which used to be the United States and possibly Canada. She is a type of fertility slave, since the birthrates have become low for Caucasians, women were forced into this type of servitude in order for more babies to be born. She lives with a married couple and their servants. The women are not allowed to read or own property; women are considered to be inferior people, and are not given the same rights as men.
Ms. Hen thinks that reading this novel is like going into a swimming pool little by little; she didn’t quite understand everything that was happening until she was over her head in the water. Offred suffers because she remembers the way the world used to be, when she had a husband, a daughter, and a job, had money, and lived a life as we know now. She comes to have nothing; she is a prisoner, she has no choice of what to do with her life, and no hope for the future.
This novel concerns Ms. Hen because she thinks it could be the way the world is turning now. Births are down, and many women don’t want to have children. Men are trying to take rights away from women. Men are afraid that women have had too much power of their own, and many men want to usurp the power they think is their right. Ms. Hen worries the United States may be going down this path. It could all start slowly, little by little, until we are dwelling in Gilead with Offred and the other Handmaids.
There are many chickens and hens in this novel, and an egg is a motif that is shown over and over. Ms. Hen decided it has to do with eggs being ovaries, and the women are considered to only be good as how fertile they are. One day Offred looks at the egg she is going to eat for breakfast:
“The shell of the egg is smooth but also grained; small pebbles of calcium are defined by sunlight, like craters on the moon. It’s a barren landscape, yet perfect, it’s the sort of desert the saints went into, so their minds would not be distracted by profusion. I think that that is what God must look like: an egg. The life on the moon may not be on the surface, but inside.”
When Offred goes shopping, she buys chicken for the household to eat. Sometimes she doesn’t like the chicken, but she always eats it.
Ms. Hen thinks THE HANDMAID’S TALE is an important novel in the vein of 1984 and other dystopian novel, but with a feminist twist. She loved reading it, even though it scared her. She hopes that the TV show is high quality, and introduces people to the book. She prays that this novel is not as prophetic as she imagines it could be, and also that she never has to live in a place like Gilead.