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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Handmaid's Tale Readalong, Monday, Week 1

I am participating in the discussion of The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood over at the Classic Reads Book Club.  Questions are posted Monday and Thursday.  Today is discussion 1 of Sections I-IV and here are the posted questions with my answers.  Please stop by the full thread for other insightful answers. 

1.) Aunt Lydia says, “In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from.” (24). Freedom from what?

Freedom from: for me it means freedom from thinking and making any choices. Apparently you people couldn't do it correctly before so now you are free from making any further mistakes. We know what is right or wrong and will do it for you.

2.)Why didn’t people protest more when their rights were taken away?

Why didn't people protest more? I am not sure about this. As someone else suggested maybe the freedoms were taken away gradually so no one noticed. (Remind you of anything currently?) By the time anyone noticed it was too late. I think that society was too complacent and not interested in government so that religious factions were able to slowly take over. The society was too busy trying to be cute, pretty, and reading for knowledge. Knowledge is bad, because it means you question others, and this crazy gvmt doesn't like that.

3.) Why does Offred tell the interpreter for the group of Japanese tourists that she is very happy as a handmaid?

Offred said that to fit in and blend in. She had to or else risk of being banished or beaten I presume. I don't believe she truly meant it.

4.) Is any symbolism jumping out at you yet?

Symbolism: the only thing for me is the red. Sorry! They like to say the red is for being handmaid and special but I think it is also meant to be like the Scarlett Letter. They are dirty girls because they have had or will have sex. This is very oppressed society. The Wives are dressed like nuns or virgin Marys because of the blue. The Officers remind me of German soldiers. Sorry to say it but I think gestapo when they describe the Eyes, the officers and the guards. Plus under Hitler there were no questions asked and they controlled the media, just like this society. The simulated sex, means that sex is dirty, bad, and shameful.

5.) Did anyone else look up ‘Nolite te bastardes carborundorum’? What do you think it means?

Didn't look up the words but Heather said it translates to “Do not let the bastards grind you down.” So in essence hang in there sister. You are not alone in this tragedy. Some sort of resistance must be in play.

6.) What did you think of the scene where the mom takes the daughter to the book burning for the pornography? Is it ever okay to censor?

Religion has become an even bigger part of society with more impact. I thought it was sad that books are being burned because it implies that one segment of society feels it knows best for all. That is not the case in my opinion. If you don't want your child to read or learn something, then it is up to you to censor your child. Not the children of your neighbors. If you don't like the community you live in, then move.

Absolutely loving this book and I can't believe I waited this long to read it.

I copied and paste this after I answered on the readalong and I must admit these are very thought provoking questions.  The censorship question has tons of reason why you should or shouldn't, but it's this free speech and discussion that I value most.  Which the society in the book does not have.

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Staci said...

Your answer to #2 gave me the chills....I'm awake and yelling!

This book scared the poop out of me!

Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

I never liked Atwood until I read this book. The Handmaid's Tale is amazing!

Tales of Whimsy said...

I'm one of those rare souls who pretty much loathed this book. Great discussion points though!

Jo-Jo said...

I'm also joining the readathon and enjoying it so far.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I'm doing the read-along and am really freaked out by this book -- take a look at the back of the book after the description of the story. The last sentence is "Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing..." I'm only in the first section for the read-along of course, but am trying to see where the humor is thus far, you know...??

Darlene said...

I've read this book twice - once with my book and once on my own and it never fails to freak me out. There were a lot of things going on that I could see happening in our own society today. One has to wonder what it will be like 100 years from now. I wouldn't have minded reading it again but just don't have the time right now but I'll follow along in your reading.

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