There are some books that can really make you think about how different life could be. How we could easily lose our freedoms and abilities depending on how the world turns and governments change. This book is one of those stories that leaves you wondering what our country would look like if this was to take place.
Imagine a world where women were not allowed to own anything. If they were married, everything was in their husbands name. If they were on their second marriage, it wasn’t even considered a marriage and both man and woman would be punished. Women were not even allowed to read, everything from the signs in the store windows to the coupons used to buy food had pictures on them. Even the movies that were used to train the Handmaids could not have any reading in them whatsoever.
Women in this book had different roles. Some were wives (or Econowives depending on your husband’s status), some were servants (or Marthas), some were Aunts (they were the ones who taught the Handmaids the “correct” way of life), and some were Handmaids.
This story is of one Handmaid named Offred. She tells of what life was like before the reign of Gilead and what her life has become since. Her only job was to be used as a vessel to house a baby. Her sexual encounters with the Commander of her house was done ritualistic and always with the wife present, in hopes of giving the family a baby.
Handmaids were only needed if a family was unable to produce offspring. (Because it’s always the woman’s fault, right….) They were to wear red to set them apart. They wore “wings” to keep their faces hidden. They were not to speak or even be seen unless a wife need them or it was Ceremony Night.
However, as the story unfolds, we see that Offred is not as willing to comply as she was taught to be and her heartbreaking story is told.
There is nothing flowery or happy about this book. It is a book that really makes you see how life can change in an instant. While this may seem far-fetched, take a look around. This was not much of a change from what life was like in the Old Testament for some women, for women in other cultures and countries and even our own country in the very beginning.
Women fought for the rights we have now and image having that all stripped away without any choice. Your sole purpose in life is to be used to procreate with someone else’s husband and treated like less than the servants of the house.
I highly recommend reading this book. I doubt that our future looks like this, but you just never know…..
*Disclaimer: I have not watched the show on Hulu. From what I understand it follows the book pretty well, but I haven’t compared the two as of yet. Whether you have watched the show or not, I recommend reading the book as well.