Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

As you may have noticed, I have been in a bit of a reading-rut, but I have finally forced myself to wade through a novel and to get over it! Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale has been on my TBR list for a while. I am eager to get started with The Summer Mini-Readathon hosted by Sarah Says, so here are some of my thoughts on Atwood's novel.

Synopsis from the back of the book:
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now. . .


As I read this novel, I kept thinking: "Oh no, don't end like Orwell's 1984." And it did just that. . .well, sort of. Throughout the novel, it becomes increasingly apparent that the Commanders, the men, can get away with breaking the rules, but this is not so for the women - especially the Handmaids. After breaking many of Gilead's rules, the black van finally comes for Offred. It was no surprise that she would eventually get caught; in fact, it was what I was dreading the entire time I was reading the book.

I keep rereading the last chapter of this novel because I can't decide if this is a "happy" ending or a sad one. Was Offred killed, or was Offred rescued? I have hope that Offred was rescued because Nick tells her, "It's all right. It's Mayday. Go with them. . .Trust me" (293-94). However, I have also read other reviews that stated Offred was probably killed, since that was the only escape for women throughout the novel.

For those of you who have read this novel, what did you think of the ending? Do you have a different opinion on what could have happened to Offred?


  1. This was a disturbing book, wasn't it? I read it so many years ago and it still gives me the creeps. I don't know what to make of the ending, though. I'd probably have to read it again.

  2. Trish, this was a very disturbing book. . .glad I finally read it, but I totally agree with you.