Offred is nostalgic, she longs for her pre-Gilead past with which she still identifies very strongly. She is, however, realistic in her longing; she knows that the past was not perfect, that it was no utopia, but she just longs for a situation preferable to her present one, "...We lived, as usual, by ignoring...". Another strong reason for to long for the past is that she was basically happy there, she had a daughter and a lover, both of which she was removed from by the Gilead regime. Her longing for the past is bittersweet, although it has many memories for her, not all of them are happy. Also, whenever she thinks of the past, she is reminded of how awful her present situation is, she is reminded of what she has lost. Perhaps that is why she refers to the past as "...the other time...".
She is also a fighter. She is determined to survive, to "last" through Gilead, no matter what it takes. The important distinction here is between survival and rebellion; Offred will only go so far in defiance of the regime, while she is prepared to stretch the rules with an insignificant Guardian on the road into the town, she limits herself, describing it as "....a small defiance of rule....like the candy I hoarded, as a child..". When it comes to serious defiance, she draws a definite line, " "No. I can't" " she says when the doctor offers to impregnate her, "The penalty is death". Perhaps that is what Offred is really afraid of. Death is her real fear.
In order to keep herself sane, Offred has invented several survival mechanisms, games w...
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Works Cited and Consulted
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. Anchor Books: New York, New York, 1985.
Conboy, Sheila C. "Scripted, Conscripted, and Circumscribed: Body Language in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale." Anxious Power: Reading, Writing, and Ambivalence in Narrative by Women. Eds. Carol J. Singley and Susan Elizabeth Sweeney. Albany : State U of New York P, 1993. 349-62
Fitting, Peter. "The Turn from Utopia in Recent Feminist Fiction." Feminism, Utopia, and Narrative. Eds. Libby Falk Jones and Sarah Webster Goodwin. Knoxville : U of Tennessee P, 1990. 141-158.
Garlick, Barbara. "The Handmaid's Tale: Narrative Voice and the Primacy of the Tale." Twentieth-Century Fantasists: Essays on Culture, Society and Belief in Twentieth-Century Mythopoeic Literature. Ed. Kath Filmer. New York : St. Martin's, 1992. 161-71.
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