Little Acts of Vengeance

“Then I find I’m not ashamed at all. I enjoy the power; power of a dog bone, passive but there. I hope they get hard at the sight of us and have to rub themselves against the painted barriers, surreptitiously. They will suffer, later, at night, in their regimented beds. They have no outlets now except themselves, and that’s a sacrilege. There are no more magazines, no more films, no more substitutes; only me and my shadow, walking away from the two men, who stand at attention, stiffly, by a roadblock, watching our retreating shapes.” (40)

In this passage, the anger and resentment that lies beneath the surface in Offred is brought to the forefront, as she engages in what would be considered scandalous behavior and justifies it. Offred’s candid diction and angered tone help readers understand the resentment she feels toward her situation, which seem to foreshadow a larger rebellion taking place within her.

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Offred begins by saying “I’m not ashamed at all,” showing her blatant lack of remorse at flirting with the guards who are similarly a product of the society they live in and are in charge of opening the gates to the place she considers hell. What is surprising is Offred acknowledges her “power” in this situation, which she normally lacks in this society, where she only possesses a “freedom from” but not a “freedom to.” Normally not being in control of her life seems to have enabled her to recognize the situations in which she does have some power, especially concerning people socially ranked below her, such as the guards. Thus, it is interesting that she says, “I enjoy the power” and uses the metaphor of a dog bone to describe the way in which she reels in the guards by their sexual desires.

As readers, we get a sense of Offred’s anger and resentment toward her situation as she describes her desire of watching the guards suffer. She says, “They have no outlet now besides themselves, which is a sacrilege.” Offred recognizes not only the power she holds, but she chooses to use this power to make those around her suffer. This latter part is the one in which we as readers are enlightened to her absolute hatred and loath towards her situation and her desire to take vengeance in the smallest way possible, even if it is by engaging the sexual desires of those she is forbidden to interact with. Offred’s tone thus points to her rebellious nature and seems to shadow an uprising she may lead later on in the novel. This seems to become evident in her reference to herself as a “retreating shape,” or one that is gone for now but will come back later to strike.

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Reversing the Control

Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn’t really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing. (Atwood 135)

In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood “speculates” a society in which the structure of freedom rights is reversed from what America accepts today. If our society is structured to emphasize the freedom for citizens to act how they wish with less concern for the consequences of one’s actions, Atwood’s depicted society is structured against citizens acting however they wish in order to provide a “freedom” from the worry of the consequences of one’s actions. In order to accomplish such a structure, Atwood’s society diminishes much of women’s freedom of choice and seems to place most of the power in the hands of the men, creating a hierarchy of power. In the passage above, Offred has a moment of reflection in which she forms a conclusion that goes against the structure of the society illustrated by Atwood as a way to fight internally against the basis of the society she lives in.

Offred first defines that what she is reflecting about is the power dynamic exchanged between two individuals. She considers both those with power, “who can own… who can do,” and those without power, who are owned or acted upon. The relationship between the two is shown through the use of symmetric sentence structure in this passage. The short sentences in the beginning and end and the two parallel sentences in the middle with “[m]aybe it isn’t” show an exchange. However, this seemingly symmetric structure is interrupted when Offred interjects with what “it is about,” making a symbolic break in society’s hierarchy structure.

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An exchange between those with power and those without power

One of the most obvious devices of this excerpt is the repetition of the word “maybe” at the beginning of each sentence. This word is intimately related to the action of speculation. In this short reflection, Offred is speculating a different society than the one she lives in, without the hierarchy of control. By speculating this different society, she tries to create a new world for herself in which perhaps she is in control.

This passage as a whole begins by arguing against the fact that control is what defines Offred’s society. Offred lists examples of what society “isn’t about,” all of which depict a comparison between those with power, who perform actions, and those without control that are acted upon. By dismissing this comparison between those with power and those without, she again defies the basic structure of power in society. Near the end of this reflection, she chooses to put importance in action of forgiveness. Forgiveness opposes the idea of “get[ting] away with it,” which defines her current society. Her decision to put importance on forgiveness brings power to those “without power” because only those “acted upon” can forgive others, while those “acting upon others” must receive forgiveness. Thus, the role of those acting and those acted upon, in this case, are reversed, effectively creating a society with a reversed power dynamic in Offred’s own world.

 

Image source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/vveUXPW3VZQ/maxresdefault.jpg

Mass Media: Informant or Indoctrinator?

“The anchorman comes on now… What he’s telling us, his level smile implies, is for our own good. Everything will be all right soon. I promise. There will be peace. You must trust. You must go to sleep, like good children. He tells us what we long to believe. He’s very convincing. I struggle against him. He’s like an old movie star, I tell myself, with false teeth and a face job. At the same time, I sway towards him, like one hypnotized. If only it were true. If only I could believe.” (Atwood 83)

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale continually explores the subject of government control. As the reader attempts to understand how the society came to be, he/she looks to the information propagated by the leaders in Gilead.

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Acting akin to a parent, the media can ‘spoon-feed’ information to the viewer.

Atwood uses anchorman’s dialogue to show the government-sponsored infantilization of the populace. The anchorman uses short, simple syntax as one would use to talk to a small child. He even requests that they act “like good children,” submitting to the government’s parental-like authority. Just as children are taught to not question their parents when they make decisions on the children’s behalf, so too is the populace told that they “must trust” in the government. The anchorman tells them “I promise,” as if he carried a sort of credibility. The people must trust because the anchorman says so.

To contrast with the anchorman’s message, Atwood uses complex syntax when Offred is thinking for herself. This is similar to throughout the entire novel, as thought is portrayed as Offred’s primary means of defiance. Every other chapter is “Night,” describing how Offred attempts to remember the past, giving her hope that society has the ability to change if it has changed before. She attempts to tell herself that “he’s like an old movie star” to destroy any credibility that he has an anchor, but she is not powerful enough to fully deny the power of his words.

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The media functions almost exclusively to elicit obedience.

In addition to Atwood’s utilization of syntax, she also uses diction relating to hypnosis to subtly show the extent of the government’s control. Earlier in the novel, we have seen Aunt Lydia’s attempt to teach morality to the handmaids in brief, definitive instructions, similar in its intent to Brave New World‘s hypnopaedic slogans. Atwood expands on this instruction in this passage of the media, as the anchorman tells the people “you must go to sleep.” Additionally, Offred shrewdly points out that she moves towards the TV, “like one hypnotized.” He assures them, in this altered state, that “everything will be all right soon.” Atwood shows that for this indoctrination to take place, it is preferable, in the government’s perspective, for the people to not fully be conscious.

 

By portraying the media as infantilizing and hypnotic, Atwood asserts that the media has a functional role in the continuation of society. The media operates to comfort its citizens in order to keep the status quo. This will work best if the people are not even fully aware that this is taking place.

Human Relationships Surpassing Degredation

“I pull her to the ground and roll on top of her to cover her, shield her. Quiet, I say again, my face is wet, sweat or tears, I feel calm and floating, as if I’m no longer in my body; close to my eyes there’s a leaf, red, turned early, I can see every bright vein. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” (Atwood 75)

The world of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a soulless, authoritarian, and apocalyptic setting for the novel, where women are marginalized and transformed by society into reproductive tools in order to combat infertility. However, the novel still highlights moments where humanity is still able to rise above all of the negative situations and degradation of the world.

In this particular passage of the novel, the handmaid, Offred, is in a dream where she and her child are escaping a pursuer through a forest. As the pursuer gains ground, Offred eventually resorts to protecting her child from danger. The act of “pull[ing] her to the ground” (75) resembles a fall of humans from the original honor and nobility associated with being human. The subsequent actions of “roll[ing] on top of her to cover her, shield her” (75) represent the tendencies for humans to hide from their failures and seek protection, instead of facing them directly. In addition, Offred’s silencing of the child depicts the loss of voice of women, who are stripped away from their identity and marginalized in their society. We as readers are also not able to tell if Offred’s face is wet from “sweat or tears,” (75) but are able to conclude that the world Offred lives in is one of distress, which is pictured by sweat, and sadness, which is depicted by tears.

Yet despite these dire circumstances, Offred feels “calm and floating, as if [she’s] no longer in [her] body.” (75) The reader is taken aback and shocked, because Offred manages to find tranquility in such a stressful situation. Since she also feels “floating,” (75) it can be argued that she feels transcendent above her situation due to this out-of-body experience. This lends support to genuine human virtues and relationships that are able to rise above the rest of the world as society continues to take a downward turn.

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Red leaves, albeit closer to death, show vitality in the presence of death. Photo from: http://earthsky.org/earth/why-do-tree-leaves-turn-red-in-fall

In this novel, there is also a substantial amount of plant imagery. In this case, the leaf is a metaphor for Offred’s relationship with her child, which is one of the few hallmarks of humanity left in the degraded society. The fact that the leaf is “turned early” (75) has a dubious meaning, as it can either signify vitality or forewarn death since it prematurely changed colors. However in this case, Offred notices the “bright vein[s]” (75) and remarks that “it’s the most beautiful thing [she’s] ever seen.” (75) The veins lend further support to the leaf as a picture of Offred’s relationship with her child, as it is both alive and beautiful in midst of so much chaos and so many inhumane acts. Even if the leaf is dying prematurely, the beauty of its life is still made known.

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The love relationship between a mother and a child is rare in the society Offred lives in. Photo from: http://www.kairosphotos.com/blog/ethiopian-mother-and-child/

This passage has a very calming tone, in contrast to the preceding paragraph, which is marked by diction and syntax that create a violent, nervous, and chaotic tone. Thus, we see a contrast between Offred’s distress in her situation, and then suddenly having an out-of-body experience that brings tranquility and alertness to her. Offred’s out-of-body experience also reveal that she no longer feels confined to her body, which is defined and used by the society in the novel. Through all of this, the passage is able to show that Offred may be the last stronghold of human virtues and integrity in her world, as she bears the memories of the previous society that fostered such loving relationships and uprightness.

Citations:

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. 1st ed. New York: Anchor, 1986. Print.

Norrland, Jörgen. Autumn Picture from Sweden… Earth Sky

Jeffrey, Paul. Ethiopian mother and child. Global Lens

A Caricature of Present Reality

“Finally, he tells me it’s time for me to go home. Those are the words he uses: go home. He means to my room. He asks me if I will be all right, as if the stairway is a dark street. I say yes. We open his study door, just a crack, and listen for the noises in the hall.” (Atwood 139)

This passage depicts the tense moments as Offred leaves the Commander’s study after a night of scrabble, a forbidden act, but within the context of a larger narrative, the passage depicts central themes of the novel. Atwood uses imagery and syntax to bring to mind the dangers and struggles of womanhood, both in the novel and in the present reality.  

First, the passage consists of a metaphor  equating Offred’s room to her house and the stairway as a dark alley. The comparison illustrates a central theme of the novel, the subjection of women  because the right to own a home and the freedom to travel at night are liberties  that many readers of the book, such as women, are not necessarily granted. Atwood is paralleling the tensions and struggles Offred faces to the sexism and lack of sexual freedom faced by women of real life society.

The first textual evidence of implementation of this metaphor is when the Commander tell Offred to “go home.” The use of italics in the passage marks the short command as the most important and central part of the passage (syntax). The italicized command highlights the power assumed by the Commander because he sees no need to ask her and forcefully tells her what to do. The command also points to fact that Offred does not actually own anything in her life. Not only does she not own her own room, she does not own her own body because the Commander has assumed this responsibility with his demand.

When Offred describes the Commander speaking of the stairway as if were a dark street, she is implying that he is speaking of the stairway as if it were a dangerous space. In our past and current narratives, dark alleys are depicted as spaces where violence occurs, often towards women (e.g. back alley abortions, rape, etc.). In the passage, the dark stairway represents the dangers of Offred’s society and her own womanhood. By comparing the stairway to a dark street, Atwood relates the dangers of being a woman walking alone in a dark alley. For both Offred and women in our society, walking down a dark street alone poses a serious threat for simply being a woman.

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A dark street (Image via Flickr)

Finally, rather than opening the door freely, the Commander opens it “just a crack.” This careful action represents how women must watch their every movement when dealing their sexuality and sexual health. Offred is not able to step freely into the outside world, the stairway, after she makes her own choice regarding her sexuality, kissing the Commander, out of fear of punishment from her government and society. This experience is easily relatable to women in real life modern society. The present reality for women, even in highly developed societies is one rooted in fear. If a woman wished to take responsibility for her health (e.g. abortion, birth control, etc.), she may fear judgment from family, friends, partners, or even the medical professionals on which she depends. Through use of metaphor that compares the Commander’s house to a pre-war neighborhood, this passage argues that the atrocities being committed are merely caricatures of the real society of the reader.

The Constant Internal Battle

Gender imbalances are a constant in our society. Albeit, there are fewer differences between the two genders – female and male – today than there have been in almost all of human history. The novel The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, is a piece of speculative fiction that focuses on the story of Offred, who is a handmaid. Through the lens of Offred found in an excerpt on page 88, the differences between gender are heightened to a state in which the children of today would not recognize, which is shown by the internal questioning displayed, and the reader gains insight of Offred’s internal struggles between wanting to rebel and wanting to survive as long as possible within the societal structure she lives in, as seen through the back and forth internal banter. Continue reading

An Empty Room

“Can I be blamed for wanting a real body, to put my arms around? Without it I am too disembodied. […] I too am dry and white, hard, granular; it’s like running my hand over a plateful of dried rice; it’s like snow. There’s something dead about it, something deserted. I am like a room where things once happened and now nothing does, except the pollen of the weeds that grow up outside the window, blowing in as dust across the floor.”(128)

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale explores the consequences of society where fertility is limited and gender roles are exaggerated as a result. This passage occurs later at night of the same day of Offred and the Commander’s routine interaction, and Offred lies in bed thinking and contemplating about her blissful time in the company of Luke. Now, she is overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness and longing for real, genuine human contact. Through the first person point-of-view, continual references to death, and the similes comparing Offred herself to objects, Atwood indicates how Offred’s mind and body are separate entities where only her body is valued, and suggests that this dehumanization is attributed to the detrimental societal constructs of the totalitarian society.

As we discussed in class, the majority of this novel is narrated in first person point-of-view, allowing Offred’s experiences in this society as a handmaid to represent the experiences of all the handmaids. Thus, all the handmaids are likely to feel the same detachment from their bodies, presumably because their value is so often attributed to their uterus, and their body as a baby-making machine—which the totalitarian government dictated for them. This reveals the dehumanizing nature of the society towards handmaids, and also towards other classes in the hierarchy.

While contemplating the concept of real human contact that seems to be nonexistent in this society, Offred poses a rhetorical question, asking if this urge for human contact is something worthy of blame. In today’s society, it is completely normal to have this urge; however, in this future society, handmaids are conditioned to resist these natural urges. By asking this question, the narrator allows the reader to empathize with her and recognize how hard it must be for the narrator to not have any real people “to put [her] arms around”. Furthermore, the use of the word “disembodied” implies that without this lack of human interaction, Offred’s soul and mind are separated from her body. This separation is a result of her physical demands not being met, leaving only her emotions.

Following those phrases, Offred compares herself to a “plateful of dried rice” and “snow” that is “dead” and “deserted”. Rice that has been left out for a while becomes dry, and Offred feels like her body has done that, just been left out without anyone paying attention to it. Furthermore, “rice” is an object, and by comparing herself to an object, she objectifies herself—conditioned by the society to do so. The totalitarian society has stripped her of value of her mind, leaving only a body which dehumanizes her. These words also create

an eerie tone with all the references to desolation and death, relating to the eerie nature of this society. Finally, Offred compares herself to a room where nothing grows and only the “pollen of the weeds” blow “as dust across the floor”. Again, she compares herself to an object, dehumanizing her. It is depressing to see how something once lively now has no signs of life, because what Offred is doing is not living, it is just existing to serve her one purpose. There are only weeds growing because weeds are irrelevant and useless—symbolizing the irrelevant, superficial human interactions Offred has each day.

 

Freedom from Freedom

Moira had power now, she’d been set loose, she’d set herself loose. She was now a loose woman… Moira was like an elevator with open sides. She made us dizzy. Already we were losing the taste for freedom, already we were finding these walls secure. In the upper reaches of the atmosphere you’d’ come apart, you’d vaporize, there would be no pressure holding you together. (Atwood 133)

In this passage, Offred recalls Moira’s escape from the Red Center. The contrasting descriptions of Moira and the other Handmaids at the Red Center, revealed through similes and ambiguous diction, exposes human susceptibility to indoctrination due to the multifaceted, fleeting nature of freedom of thought.

The use of ambiguous diction in the word “loose” reveals that a lack of clear definition creates an environment in which it is easy to succumb to a source of structure and rigidity. The repetition of “loose” emphasizes the freedom that Moira has acquired through her escape, but also illuminates the multiple meanings that the word takes on in Offred’s thoughts. The phrase “set loose” compares Moira to a wild, untamed animal that is released from its captor, dehumanizing her into a creature that acts instinctually and without reason. In Offred’s mind, power has transformed into something uncontrolled and dangerous; by exaggerating the harmful instances of humanity, the society in The Handmaid’s Tale takes advantage of fear to control women.

Moira is like an animal “set loose” from its chains (steemit.com)

Rather than praising Moira for her freedom, Offred categorizes Moira as a “loose woman,” implying that a woman with freedom must also be promiscuous and unchaste, further revealing the prejudiced attitude toward woman that is adopted by the novel’s dystopian society and instilled on the Handmaids.

The simile comparing Moira to “an elevator with open sides” implies that Moira’s freedom gives her the ability to raise her living standards. However, this becomes twisted in the Handmaid’s mind as they can only focus on the dizzying nature of Moira’s freedom, her “open sides,” because they feel unstable and out of balance. The fact that the Handmaids are losing their “taste” for freedom reveals the idea that they have become numbed to any sensation due to the indoctrination at the Red Center. Without any exposure to freedom, the Handmaids have forgotten its value and thus are satisfied with their new rigid and structured lifestyle.

Riding an “elevator with open sides” can be both exhilarating and terrifying (www.travelpulse.com)

The simile of the elevator contrasts with Offred’s description of the Handmaids when she states “you’d vaporize.” By switching to second person, Offred generalizes her description to an unspecified audience, revealing the pervasiveness of the regime’s brainwashing. While Moira is able to remain whole as one entity, the Handmaids have become so accustomed to their strict lifestyle that they believe they would “vaporize” and disappear if given access to freedom. The women have become reliant on the “pressure” exerted by the society in order to continue functioning as a complete being.

 

Wanting is Weakening

“But to refuse to see him could be worse. There’s no doubt about who holds the real power.

But there must be something he wants, from me. To want is to have a weakness. It’s this weakness, whatever it is, that entices me. It’s like a small crack in a wall, before now impenetrable. If I press my eye to it, this weakness of his, I may be able to see my way clear.

I want to know what he wants.” (Atwood 136)

In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the readers are introduced to a society in which individuals are distanced from each other via social stratification. Individuals from different classes are discouraged from associating with one another, Commanders and Handmaids, in particular, by law. So, how did this society come to be? What is the reason why formation of relationships are so discouraged and individuals are so emotionally isolated? This is a question that we have already begun to ponder in class. Through use of parallel structure, imagery and a conversational tone transparent to Offred’s perplexity, the above passage suggests that to expect something from another is a form of weakness. The passage further complicates relationships through attributing its formation to the revealing of such weakness, and thus arguing the vulnerability of human beings when we engage in relationships.

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Wanting leads to weakness. Revealing the weakness or vulnerability leads to the formation of relationships. There is something enticing about the realization of vulnerability. (http://www.thecoachpod.com/2016/03/14/cp55-the-power-of-vulnerability-2/)

The use of parallel structure in this passage functions to establish a universal truth. The phrases that involve parallel structure that we have been exposed to include “Like father, like son” or “Easy come, easy go”. The rhythm and flow created by such parallelism adds a matter-of-factly tone to the phrase. Thus, by stating, “To want is to have a weakness”, the narrator establishes that “wanting” as a form of “weakness” is a universal truth. In other words, the parallelism impresses to the readers that it is an undeniable truth that when one “wants” something out of another, they are “weakened”. Such matter-of-fact phrase, placed right after the first sentence asserting the Commander’s power effectively debunks the seemingly dominant male. It ultimately points the weakening of the Commander to the fact that he “wanted” Offred to come see him; by trying to form a relationship with Offred, he is thence weakened.

In addition to the parallel structure creating an instantaneous assertive tone, the overarching conversational tone places an honest ethos to the narrator. Phrases like “whatever it is” in “It’s this weakness, whatever it is, that entices me” invites the readers into Offred’s internal confusion. The fact that she is being conversational in admitting her confusion in the exact idea of weakness then adds a more authentic voice to the fact that she was enticed by it. In other words, she honestly did not know how one is ‘weakened’ in response to the ‘want’ but was nonetheless lured by the idea of the Commander being vulnerable. The authentic voice created with the conversational tone then serves to reveal to the readers that the narrator herself is beginning to form a relationship with the Commander. The fact that she is enticed by the seemingly vulnerable Commander then implies that she ‘wants’ to figure him out. In effect, the passage establishes a mutual ‘want’ of relationship. This concept is further clarified by Offred’s last sentence in the passage when she says, “I want to know what he wants”. In her authentic voice, the readers are convinced to believe that she too ‘wants’ to get to know him, a seed to the development of a relationship, and is therefore also ‘weakened’. Offred’s engagement in ‘wanting’ acquaintance is leaving her vulnerable.

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Crack in the wall, representative of the peek into the Commander’s vulnerability (http://eastebuilder.co.uk/articles/view/184/Reasons+for+Cracks+on+Your+Walls)

Finally, the use of visual imagery highlights Offred’s transition from a passive female to one that actively seeks to learn about the Commander’s ‘want’ or ‘weakness’. Creating the image of a wall with a small crack, and illustrating Offred going up against it and pressing her eye to it gives the readers the image that Offred is actively engaging. In contrast to her reluctance to come up to meet the Commander, previously, the image created displays her moving towards the crack, or apparent weakness of the Commander. As a result, the visual imagery further strengthens the fact that Offred is actively taking initiative in forming the personal acquaintance. This image, in particular, is crucial given the circumstances of Offred being a Handmaid. It would be illegal for her to display any sign of visible action to get to know the Commander. Instead, the imagery helps communicate Offred’s below-the-surface level active initiative.

In such ways, the passage helps to underscore the vulnerabilities that branch from the formation of relationships. This is done through drawing a definitive link between ‘want’ or any desires for another, and the subsequent ‘weakness’ as drawn by parallelism, strengthened by an authentic voice and enhanced through imagery.

Returning to a Child

I fold back the sheet, get carefully up, on silent bare feet, in my nightgown, go to the window, like a child, I want to see. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow. The sky is clear but hard to make out, because of the searchlight; but yes, in the obscured sky a moon does float, a newly, a wishing moon, a silver of ancient rock, a goddess, a wink. The moon is a stone and the sky is full of deadly hardware, but oh God, how beautiful anyway. (Atwood 97)

In The Handmaid’s Tale, women are no more than reproductive machines and only viewed as substitutable properties of the Commander. However, through this passage, the readers can know more about the inner self of Offred and her deep cravings. Through portraying Offred’s actions and the view she sees from her perspective, this passage sheds more light on Offred’s psychological status and the derived desires which are unfortunately suppressed by the society, and it leads to a better understanding of the narration style of the novel and the humanization of the handmaids.

Firstly, the depiction of Offred’s actions suggests her return to a more original, child-like mental stage. In the first sentence, Offred employs short, repetitive structure and simple verbal use which resembles the talking of a young kid. She expresses her thoughts plainly and directly: “I want to see.” Offred thinks like a child and therefore she talks like a child, without cautiousness she presents when talking with Serena or the Marthas. Moreover, the actions “fold back the sheet, get carefully up, on silent bare feet” imply more about Offred’s retrogression. The sheet symbolizes the chain the society of Gilead imposed on her: she is caged and fed in this room, and she even has a bathing schedule like an animal does. Everything in this room is a restraint, and as she goes “bare feet” and looks out of the window, she is casting the superficial limitations way, facing who she really is and what she really wants.

And how Offred sees the view “as a child” reveals more on the two questions above, and the readers can reach the deepest part of her heart through these lines. The image of the moon has been presented to the readers before, as in chapter 13 when Offred describes how she is totally determined by her uterus: “every month there is a moon, gigantic, round, heavy, an omen.” The round moon signifies the failure of conception and the despair following it, and the new moon here must stand for the opposite – it is “a wishing moon,” a moon that brings her hope, which “does float” in spite of the obscured sky; it is the moon that brings the beauty of the world and shows her the bright side even though it is actually lifeless and cold, which she refers to as a “deadly hardware.” More importantly, the metaphor of “a wink” corresponds to the wink that Nicks gave her on the driveway of the Commander’s house. The shape of the moon reminds her of the attention she gets as a real, living being, and it is an indication of the fact that she craves love from others as much as she craves hope and beauty. This explains why Offred always has flashbacks from the past: her mother, her daughter, Luke, and Moira satisfy her needs for love and care, which are nonexistent in her new life. She wants to be a child, and she wants to be loved, nurtured and protected. She wants to escape from all the coldness, the worrying in life and she needs hope as every human being does. Offred has to partially live in the past to meet those human needs, and this is the main reason why these characters are making such frequent appearances even though they are not a part of her new life of being a machine and a property of the Commander.