The Handmaid’s Tale

Her words were like slashes, quick and painful. I think everyone knows the main theme and plot of the book, as it gained popularity in recent years because of the Netflix series. It’s a dystopian future where people who follow the new scripture-based rule are basically offered stability and care from the government. Those that do not are tortured and hanged. There are a lot more rules and protocols that oddly remind me of my Catholic school experiences, but that’s for you to enjoy. The scenes were so vivid, as they were written exquisitely, with no trace of irrelevant words whatsoever.

After reading the book, I was excited to see how other people imagine those scenes. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes from the series — I wanted to read the book first. Now that I’m done, I think I’m ready to binge-watch the series.

Margaret’s sentences are brief, effective, lacked just enough details to keep you guessing. She gave space for the readers, so they can tell the story the way they wanted it to be told, sometimes completely independent of what she intended (based on the interviews I’ve watched).

My favorite characters were Offred, Moira, and Serena Joy. They each had their own strength. Offred’s was a more feminine, more enduring kind. She was pragmatic, sticking it out for her daughter. Not a lot of people will appreciate the choices that she makes, but it’s fascinating to me, as she has different motivations than I do. Moira and Serena Joy were more headstrong, both pushed into roles to keep the system functional — they all were, even the men.

In this time of the pandemic, I think we may learn a thing or two from this book, to assess our morality and expectations from the government, from the society, based on the possibilities of the future. Beyond those heavy themes, the thing that most inspired me is Offred’s desire to feel human, to feel normal. Isolated in our homes, not having a direct hand on the things that happen around us, it gets lonely and bleak to think about the future, even to remember what the past was like. That hit hard for me, not remembering — at least not clearly — what the past was like, after only a year and a half. It is scary.

I also paid attention to how she held on to her sanity. How she woke up each morning, detached from the rest of the world, only finding comforts in the things that remind her of the “normal” life, even if it’s just the sheer light from the window, or the moon.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how it is to become a person, especially when you’ve spent more than a year in isolation, doing the things that are expected of you, no matter how meaningful they’re supposed to be.

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