Offred flashes back to her mother’s explanation about the Nazis. Her memories of the Nazi and his mistress that she watched in childhood often come back to reflect on her current life especially her affair with the Commander. Her earlier teachings by Aunt Lydia also often come to play.
Offred is becoming closer to the Commander even though she fears the wife who could easily send her to the colonies because of jealousy. Moira’s escape gives the hope that women can still rebel
Offred learns that Moira was caught escaping and has been forced to become a prostitute, Offred’s mother was sent to the colonies. Protagonist, Moira and Offred’s mother’s weaknesses are revealed. Offred’s mother was once a political activist and feminist sent to the colonies, she has lost the will to fight. Moira once the source of strength due to her beliefs has been captured and forced to do what she detested.
The protagonist, Offred, Moira and Offred’s mother loose to the antagonists. Offred believes women cannot attain the power they once had Pre-Gilead.
A conflict also ensures between the men (antagonists) and the women folk. The women folk are also their own enemies as demonstrated by fights between Handmaids and Wives.
Offred is better off because she knows her friend committed suicide and thus will not report her to the Eyes. She also considers suicide or murder from Selena at which time she is salvaged by Mayday posing as the Eyes.
The book largely portrays the current world which in the book is Pre-Gilead. In today’s society, women are fighting for their rights which have largely been achieved. Women folk today have a level of independence in their moral lives, reproductive and economic, the book gives an idea of what life would be if suddenly all this rights were revoked. Women should take their position now with the seriousness it deserves.
Bill Moyer’s Interview of Margaret Atwood.
Atwood believes that everything in her book is not new but has happened before, under Puritans in the United States. The Fundamentalist group in the book gained so much power because they took advantage of the people that were so stressed. They believed that the devil was out to hunt their society through the help of witches. The fundamentalists eliminated opposition. The Bolsheviks got rid of their nearest ideological neighbors, the Mensheviks, as soon as they had the power. They killed the lot. They also got rid of other Socialist groups so they could have the most power and be the absolute power with no one to oppose them.
The fundamentalism presented in the novel cannot be realistic because you cannot force false religion down on people’s throats. They were only able to do that by the use of violence.
The novel resonates with today’s United States and the world in general. A specific example is Trump’s vilification of Hillary Clinton. The legacy of witch hunting combined with the sense of shame is engendered and is an enduring American blight says Atwood. She believes it’s more explicable seen through the eyes of the Puritan witch hunts. Some websites even portray Hillary Clinton as a Satanist in order to disqualify her for the top seat. All around the world today especially during elections with a probable change in power regimes, different groups have united with the groups they can string along and eliminated their rivals either through assassination or bad mouthing to eliminate those that pose a threat. A classic example being the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, by people who entirely believed they were doing the country a favour. Another country has also been in the limelight in the same light. Kenya is a country whose presidential election results were recently cancelled and a repeat election ordered by their Supreme Court.
The two warring sides entirely believe that they are the ‘religion’ called to lead the country, leading to a foray of showdowns in the public eye to woe supporters to either side. The majority will have to lead the rest.
Writer’s way of writing. Atwood’s reference of the Old Testament.
The childbearing story of Gilead aims to combat infertility. The Old Testament story is that of Leah and Rachel found in Genesis 30;1-3 where the infertile Rachel gives her servant Bilhah to husband Jacob to bear children on behalf of Rachel. Offred is supposed to bear a child for Selena. Gilead misquotes the Bible because here the women like Offred have no choice. They are forced to become handmaids or get sent to the colonies as punishment. In Jacob’s story what Bilhah does is considered honorable because Jacob only agrees to it to appease the love of his life Rachel who is being tormented by her sister’s bearing of offspring. The Republic of Gilead keeps its citizens in line by forcing early marriages that are entirely arranged in the pretense that they are better off than falling in love. They also attempt to hide the fact that men can also be infertile through sterility which is blamed on women that don’t conceive and are punished for it.
The Gilead Society also portrays the Aunts as the meek that are saving the nation. Original Bible quote Matthew 5:5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ Gilead oppresses through direct manipulation. While at the Rachel and Leah Center, the Aunts repeat the phrase, “Blessed are the meek,” to subdue the Handmaids’ defiant attitudes. Offred uses it as an act of rebellion. The original quote intended to convince Christians that their obedience to the word of God would lead to a reward at the end of life because they would gain the new Earth. The afflicted will one day achieve the power status and redeem themselves. Gilead however uses it to manipulate the handmaids into doing what they don’t like and convince them that it’s the path to follow. The handmaids continue in their oppression.
The Marthas of the time is a quote that often comes up in Reference to the house keepers of Gilead. Martha in the Bible is a woman who was more concerned in busying herself to welcome Jesus to their home while her sister was more interested in what Jesus had to teach (Luke 10:38-42) Gilead encourages the Marthas to be hardworking to meet their superiors needs so that they won’t ever question if what they are subjected to is ideal. The original story evokes a teaching that wisdom is better, where Jesus admonishes Martha to be more like her sister Mary and listen to the words of life. Jesus upholds what is important over the daily routines of life that are meaningless, a sharp contrast to the Gilead leadership.