Notes on ‘The Handmaid-s Tale”

 F.I. had a book reading in May, on Margaret Atwood’s “The Hand-maid’s Tale”. These are some notes on their reflection!

  1. Hierarchy of women

Sya pointed out the hierarchy of women in the book as being relevant to real life, even though people may not give explicit labels to social norms. Discussion followed on the nature of women’s choice in the man-based Republic of Gilead .

  1. Aunts training Handmaids

Tanya highlighted the control of women by other women. Nikita compared Aunts to pro-life activists who believe in their propaganda. Sya saw Aunts as representing any woman who is complicit in the subordination of women in patriarchal society. Discussion followed on the possible causes of the Aunts’ actions, such as limited options for them, or the corrupting influence of power.

  1. Handmaids’ role of bearing children

Deya pointed out the irony of the Handmaids’ role of child-bearing, which gives them great power, but also reduces their selves to their reproductive capacity. Discussion followed on whether there is a change of such a perception of women in real life, as the laws in some countries present infertility as a reason for divorce.

  1. Change in power relations

Nikita remarked on the power relations between the Commander and Offred, and differences in power relations between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Discussion followed on how gender is not the primary power relation in homosexual relationships, and how independence and authority in the form of employment and literacy influences power relations.

  1. Lack of consent, choice and spirituality

Farrah showed concern for the lack of true consent and choice for the women of Gilead, and linked it to the lack of spirituality. Some members saw spirituality present in the form of religious discourse before the Ceremony, while some members found that the Ceremony lacked a holistic approach and likened it to rape. Nikita emphasized the changed relationship between the Commander and Offred, which may imply consent. Discussion followed on whether the Ceremony is an act of rape, within and outside of the context of the book.

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