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Writing, Power and the Female Body The Handmaid’s Tale (2):

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Presentation on theme: "Writing, Power and the Female Body The Handmaid’s Tale (2):"— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing, Power and the Female Body The Handmaid’s Tale (2):

2 Handmaid’s identity: Review Complicit with the power structure Suspicious of the others as “Eyes” Obedient in appearance; remembering the Aunt’s sayings Rebellious implicitly: by maintaining her sense of identity Keen desire & awareness of physical senses (e.g. Nick & the guardian) Relate to people around her (e.g. Nick, Marthas, Serena) re-constructions of the past through both remembering and writing.

3 Offred/June’s self-assertion Offred’s Remembering as a way of escape: Chap pp (escape); Self-assertion after the ceremony Chap p. 124 Moira’s Chap p. 115 (Moira); Chap 22 p (Moira); Which of the above is the most powerful way of resistance? Are they all internal thinking and thus not actually powerful?

4 The Handmaid’s Identity General Questions: Writing: How does the narrator, Offred, re-construct her identity after she is reduced to just the role of being a handmaid? Where does she show her awareness of language? How does Offred write about the Ceremony? Power and Body How is her body used in the Ceremony? How is it justified? How does she insist on not being just an instrument? Where is Offred complicit with the power structure?

5 Outline The narrator’s ways of resistance thru’ Writing The Female Body: the Household The Handmaid’s Physical Involvement in the Power Structure

6 Offred/June’s self-assertion thru’ Language Language – Sensitivity to Language: food (date rape 50 ); metaphoric/metonymic descriptions: 11, 19 (ironic smile), 25 (tree) Re-define the words and sayings: of habit (33); lie/lay (chap 7: 49); household p ; tense, tensed 127; Offred, Off-red. Criticism p. 25; and correcting Aunt's lessons in her head 25; 60 "All flesh is weak. All flesh is grass.” Praying "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum": "Don't let the bastard grind you down." p ; 190; Reconstructing the past self-consciously

7 HT as a Postmodern Fiction Inscribe the past textually (the use of intertexts) Self-consciousness in writing: End of Chap (after her memory of the daughter); the meanings of “telling a story” End of Chap 12 – herself a composed and made thing (history and fiction) p. 86 Beginning of Chap 23 – reconstruction (multiple interpretation) Beginning of Chap 24 – What I need is perspective.

8 The Handmaid’s Tale: Writing and Plot Plot I. Night Chapter 1 -- training in a place which used to be a gym. The music in the air as palimpsest II. Shopping Chapter 2 -- Offred in her own room, preparing to go shopping, seeing two Marthas (Rita and Cora; Martha, devoted herself to housework while her sister Mary sat and listened to Jesus.). Chapter 3 -- Offred goes out into the garden, meets the commander's Wife (Serena Joy) Chapter 4 -- Offred goes out of the gate into the driveway, meets the Guardian Nick, joins Offglen and then goes past the gate guarded by two Guardian of the Faith.

9 The Handmaid’s Tale: Writing and Plot Plot I. Night Chapter 1 -- training in a place which used to be a gym. II. Shopping Chapter 2 -- Offred in her own room, preparing to go shopping, seeing two Marthas (Rita and Cora; Martha, devoted herself to housework while her sister Mary sat and listened to Jesus.). Chapter 3 -- Offred goes out into the garden, meets the commander's Wife (Serena Joy) Chapter 4 -- Offred goes out of the gate into the driveway, meets the Guardian Nick, joins Offglen and then goes past the gate guarded by two Guardians of the Faith.

10 The Handmaid’s Tale: Writing and Plot Plot Chapter 5 -- Out of the Commanders compound and "doubled," Offred goes on the sidewalk and goes past or to several stores: Lilies of the Field, Milk and Honey, and All Flesh. They also meet some Japanese tourists. Chapter 6 -- the Wall. "Luke wasn't a doctor. Isn't"?III. Night - - "The night is my time out. Where should I go?" p. 49 Chapter 7 -- memories of the past: Moira, her mother, being arrested. IV. Waiting Room -- "I wait. I compose myself. My self is a thing I must now compose, as one composes a speech. What I must present is a made thing, not something born." p. 86

11 The Handmaid’s Tale: Writing and Plot Plot Chapter 8 -- Narrative resumes. Three new bodies on the Wall. They go back to the commander's compound, parting with Ofglen's words "Mayday" as possibly a secret code. Aunt Lydia's lecture on how the handmaids should treat the Wives (62-63). Offred gives Marthas what she bought. The commander's brief approach and departure. Chapter 9 -- "My room." Offred is in her room, waiting and remembering Luke and their past relationship. Sees the sign "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum" and think of the woman who leaves this message.

12 The Handmaid’s Tale: Writing and Plot Plot Chapter10 -- Memories. Moira and Aunt Lydia. Chapter (yesterday) at the doctor's office Chapter bathroom; Memories of Luke and their daughter; supper. V. Nap Chapter waiting; Memories: Moira and Offred in the training in the gym; reams of escape scene (with Luke and the daughter). The bells wakes her up: "Of all the dreams this is the worst."

13 The Handmaid’s Tale: Writing and Plot Plot VI. Household Chapter The household meet in the sitting room, waiting for the commander and watching news. Memories: escape scene. Chapter The commander comes, reads the bible and is watched by the others. Moira. "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum" Chapter The ceremony. Chapter Offred back in her room, "buttering" herself, repeating her name and wating to steal something. Nick comes to fetch Offred. VII. Night Chapter Memories: Luke and their daughter. Hope.

14 The Handmaid’s Tale: Writing and Plot Plot VIII. Birth Day Chapter Dream. Birthing ritual. Chapter Birthing ritual. Memories: Red Center and Offred's young mother Chapter Birthing ritual. “Unwoman" v.s. a "women's culture" Chapter Back to her room. Moira. Chapter "All of this is reconstruction." Offred goes to the study. Plays scrabble with the Commander.

15 The Handmaid’s Tale: Writing and Plot Plot IX. Night Chapter Back to her room. "What I need is perspective." Memories: documentary about the death camp commander's mistress

16 The Handmaid’s Tale: Writing and Plot Plot X. Soul Scrolls Chapter visiting the commander at night. provided with magazines and lotion. Chapter The Ceremony--changed. Chapter Walking with Ofglend on the summer street. Memories: the ice cream store; her daughter. The Soul Scroll machines. Ofglen: "You can join us." A black van with two Eyes. Chapter Memories: Luke and Moira; her mother-- against porn and for abortion; losing her job; Luke. Chapter In the Commander's office. The meaning of "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum": "Don't let the bastard grind you down." The previous Handmaid who killed herself.

17 Offred’s Sense of her Body Body: enjoys the power of a dog bone 30; Sense of her body past and present p. 95; After meeting with the Commander in secret 104

18 Offred’s Complicity with the Power P. 93 – at the Red Center The Commander – Chap 23 and Chap 24


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