Discussion post: the handmaid’s tale pp. 299-311; 1-75
Notice that I first ask you to read the “epilogue” at the end of the novel? There’s a reason for it. If you haven’t yet, please read “Historical Notes on The Handmaid’s Tale,” pp. 299-311, at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale.
To be honest, I find this portion of the novel to be the most chilling and viciously scary part of the novel, because it positions us, the reader, as historians attending an academic conference in 2195 (that’s the year), listening to an academic discussion of the history of Gilead and the writer of The Handmaid’s Tale. These are similar to academic conferences on, say, the history of the Nazi Socialist Government of Germany pre- World War II or the Post Việt Nam War era discussions of the My Lai massacre. Atwood pushes us to question ways in which we apologize for the past and treat history as if it’s something we should observe without emotional attachment. She’s asking us to question the nature of academic inquiry and writing . . .
For this Discussion Post
Explain your understanding of the assigned section of The Handmaid’s Tale, “Historical Notes on The Handmaid’s Tale,” and why Atwood positions this chapter at the end of the text rather than at the beginning. Having read this section first, what perspectives do you bring to your reading of the rest of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Next, discuss the contrasting formation of ofFred’s identity that we gain from “Historical Notes on The Handmaid’s Tale,” and from the first 75 pages of The Handmaid’s Tale. Some questions to think about:
1. Why is ofFred’s name, ofFred? What is ofFred’s real name? How do you know?
2. In what ways is a name tied to our identity? Can that be removed?
3. Offred experiences a revolution, a complete change of government that’s completely outside of her control. Who has the control? How are women, like Offred, treated in Gilead? What freedoms/rights do they have?
To support your answers, make sure to provide evidence, meaning quotes, that demonstrate where in the text you’re seeing all of this occur.
Initial posts should be 250-300 words.