The Handmaids Tale

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The Handmaids Tale

In Margaret Atwoods novel, "The Handmaids Tale", the birth rate in the

United States had dropped so low that extremists decided to take matters into

their own hands by killing off the government, taking over themselves, and

reducing the womens role in society to that of a silent birthing machine. One

handmaid describes what happened and how it came about as she, too, is forced to

comply with the new order.

Before the new order, known as the Sons of Jacob, took over, women had a

lot to be afraid of. They had freedom to do whatever they wanted, but this

freedom was severely inhibited by maniacs who could strike at any time. Women

followed rules to keep them out of danger, but they were not enforced.

"I remember the rules, rules that were never spelled out but that every woman

knew; dont open your door to a stranger, even if he is the police. Make him

slide his ID under the door. Dont stop on the road to help a motorist

pretending to be in trouble. Keep the locks on and keep going. If anyone

whistles, dont turn to look. Dont go into a laundromat, by yourself, at night .

.. Women were not protected then."(p. 24)

Nobody believed it could happen to them. When the Sons of Jacob took over and

began to take away their freedom, they accepted it. They were afraid and the

Sons gave them some security. Because they accepted the first few laws, it was

hard to refuse to not go along with the ones that followed.

When the women were finally stripped of their identities, they felt as

though they had deserved it because they had done nothing to try and save any of

their other rights.

"We looked at one anothers faces and saw dismay, and a certain shame, as if wed

been caught doing something we shouldnt. Its outrageous one woman said, but

without belief. What was it about this that made us feel we deserved it?"(p.

166)

The Sons used this insecurity to round up the women and place them in

institutions where they would be "safe". Once they had them within their

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