The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

IMG_20170901_173117_049The Handmaid’s Tale written by Margaret Atwood was originally published in 1985 but touches the reader as though it was written today. This well written novel of a dystopian society scarily coincides with what takes place with women’s rights and politics today.

Ofred (the main character) is a handmaid and lives in what is essentially America, but is extremely micro-managed by the religiously extreme government entitled the Republic of Gilead. This Republic divides women into classes of legitimate or illegitimate. Legitimate women are then classified as either wives, daughters, handmaids, aunts, marthas and econowives. The illegitimate women are classified as either unwomen or jezebels. The handmaids are women who have voluntarily (or should I say involuntarily) offered themselves as basically sex slaves, but not for sex, but rather to consistently reproduce for the “wives” they are assigned to. That’s right, if a woman is considered fruitful “blessed be the fruit” she is called a handmaid and then is assigned to a wife and husband (or commander) who are not. The handmaid is basically a surrogate and serves no other purpose is life but that. The process to become impregnated is torturous to read and feels more like rape. The handmaid is to lie in bed with her head on top of the wife’s pelvic bone, hold the wife’s hands and then allow the husband of the wife to penetrate her (the handmaid). While reading this I actually said out loud “did it really just say that?!”.

Once a handmaid produces a child for the family, she is considered highly valuable and is sent to another family to do the same thing. Once a handmaid can no longer reproduce (whether she hits menopause or not) she is essentially sent out to pasture. Does Ofred remain trapped in this society or does she manage to escape to freedom in what is today’s Canada? Does she give birth or is she sent away as a useless woman?

Written with such raw depths of emotion and confusion, this novel is at times curious, relentless, humorous, downright torturous and terrifying while ironically providing a sense of optimism. Margaret Atwood’s ending to the story leaves the reader unknowing while knowing everything. The Handmaid’s Tale is such a predominate piece of literature that it is considered a classic and must-read for men and women, young and old. I highly recommend this novel, for it surely will leave you stunned and breathless. 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

IMG_20170910_184606_051Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a literary classic originally published in 1953 and yet the content of the story is so relevant to today’s time (2017). It dives into the concept of how the lack of education/knowledge and with books being forbidden that individuals will become less enhanced relying on “technology” for entertainment. Due to this dependency on “technology” people as a whole become a failed species and develop into nothing more than a massive brain warped/communication breakdown society.

The main character of this dystopian novel is firefighter Guy Montag whose job is to ignite fires with the purpose of demolishing books. In this community education is the enemy, reading is forbidden & sources of entertainment are electronics, tv walls and headsets that are filled with mindless chatter. Schools have closed, teachers hide, & books are the most dangerous items on the black market. Those caught with them will be thrown in jail or killed. During a raid Guy Montag witnesses a woman willing to die in her house surrounded by her books & curiosity gets the best of him. What is so great about these books? Why are people willing to die for them? With a swift hand he swipes one for himself before it’s engulfed in flames causing his life to be forever changed. With his brain dead wife hauling off in their car, Guy narrowly escapes the sting of a massive robotic dog. With all of society watching, he’s in danger and on the run from his co-workers and the government. Along the way he befriends intellectuals who have been in hiding preserving the last remaining books. From there he discovers a whole new aspect to life that he never thought existed.

This story is funny, suspenseful, thought provoking, and heart wrenching as we realize our society today is very much becoming the lifeless society in the book. Has our society today let technology take over our lives? Are we loosing our ability to think? Can we be like the main character by sticking to the truth and keeping the love of knowledge and books alive? Having read it once in high school and once this year, I consider it to be a must read for all readers young and old. This novel will stop anyone today in their tracks & make them observe their surroundings. Read this wonderful novel to discover all that is important and why books and knowledge are always the most powerful resource