On The Handmaid’s Tale by Caitlin Cullina

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. 

This is my favorite quote from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which I just finished reading over Thanksgiving break. It is about having strength and perseverance, in times of terrible crisis.

The novel is set in a future where the birth rates are so low that an entirely new society is created for reproducing. It is a giant step backwards from all the freedoms of today. And the story is told from the point of view of a young handmaid, she is essentially a vessel for children and that is one of her only purposes. The plot is difficult to explain because the hierarchy of this strange world is very complex, but it is essentially how this woman survives. It also includes memories of the protagonist’s life before the new lifestyle was implemented, and how her it changed as she transitioned into being a handmaid. 

I really enjoyed reading the novel, though it was strange how realistic Atwood made each circumstance seem. There are so many themes and motifs that are timeless, like what the definition of liberty is and what each person’s purpose in life is and where is the life between safety and privacy. It was almost haunting, especially in today’s political climate, reading about rights being stripped away from the people.

I would definitely recommend this book to other people, even if they don’t usually like dystopian types of novels. It seemed far more plausible than some other futuristic sci-fi novels that I’ve read in the past. It reminds me of Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America. Which is a fantastic book about an alternate path of history in which Charles Lindbergh became the President of the United States as the Nazis rose to power. Both of them gave me the chills but it was so interesting to think of how small things can change the world so entirely. It also makes me wonder about the authority to take away human rights, and how those changes can be justified. 

One thought on “On The Handmaid’s Tale by Caitlin Cullina

  1. When did the book come out? I'm curious, I'd like to check it out. I also think you really should check out the show Black Mirror (although I cannot remember if you said you had seen it or not).

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