The Handmaid’s [Cautionary] Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale, written back in 1985 by Margaret Atwood, I believe has become even more relevant with age.  It did leave me a little pessimistic—about the main character, as well as the society created in the book—however, it was still an enjoyable read, and I am glad that I can now participate in the conversations that have/may come out of it.  It also helped me think of some introspective questions that I think would benefit our society in the long run to stay aware of, such as: Are we raising our sons to respect women and treat them as equals?  Do we watch what the government is doing as close as possible, keeping an eye out for warning signs if things are regressing or not moving forward?  Is the herd mentality still the majority, or are we encouraging individuality and new ideas?  Do we ask questions and seek out knowledge, instead of just believing what we’re told?  Do we allow our opinions to be molded by the general opinion, the media, or the government?  I’ll try not to get any more political; there’s enough of that going around right now…

In case you’re like me, and prefer to go into a book blind, having to work hard to understand what’s going on, or if you are just wary of spoilers, I’m going to try and keep this brief.  This book takes place in a future US, dystopian style.  Some group has taken over the government and women now have no rights at all.  They are ranked and there’s a group of women, the Handmaids, whose worth in society is simply to have a baby with the Commander to whom they are assigned.  (After breastfeeding, the baby will then go to the Commander and his wife to raise. The Handmaid and the Commander do the deed once a month, in what is called a “ceremony.”)  The book is from Offred’s (a Handmaid) point of view, so you learn more about what’s going on as she does, which is not much because, of course, the women aren’t given information freely.  You also learn a little about how it all happened whenever she feels like giving you a flashback.  (Though sometimes you might have to piece together the information to understand.)

If any of this made you curious/interested; if you are a feminist; or if you enjoy dystopian novels (other examples of dystopian books include: The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Uglies), then please give this book a try.  And feel free to let me know what you think; or, get a group together: it’s a great option for book club discussions.  I’d also say that it reminded me a little of an apocalyptic-style Scarlet Letter or Canterbury Tales setting, with a future dystopian twist.

Unfortunately, it’s not a series; so, what book should I read next?


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