The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A woman tells of the creeping breakdown of society through the dissection of families, removal of children, filing people into colours and types of uniform. The joining of the Wife and the Handmaid in the act of procreation eliminates any love. The cold and deliberate way people are directed not to talk and look at each other….’salvaged’….eliminating trust. You ask the question ‘Could it happen now?’
The comparison between past and present make her tale even more desperate and poignent. The clean almost emotionless way of telling the story reflects the killing of individuality and feeling that those in charge want; a regimented, paternalistic society. The atmosphere is cold and grey. The threat of the Wall is always there. The unfamiliar titles for shops, position in the hierarchy and the intertwining of Christian based morals, however manipulated, adds to a feeling of hopelessness. The horror of the Prayvaganza reminds you that however civilised people think they are, they can soon become part of a baying mob with no feeling or empathy with the victim, simply preservation of self.
The Historical notes create the most disturbing feelings of all….that those in the future can look back, having escaped the horrors of the particular society they are viewing through the words of someone who had to suffer what was imposed on him/her and in the end may have been punished for what? It has happened in our history.
The reader is gripped from beginning to end by this disturbing and thought provoking book. Totally believable.