Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Did you know this book is considered dangerous?

Reading this book could arouse the suspicions of the secret police.

I read the The Handmaid's Tale about 10 years ago and I have never forgotten the powerful impact of this book.  I read it for a reading retreat through The Women's Press and their BookWomen magazine.  We met in the north woods of Minnesota to talk about the dire and scary prospects The Handmaid's Tale presented.  This weekend forever changed my reading life and I am so grateful I was able to digest this novel with amazing women from several different states. 

This dystopian novel takes place in totalitarian country called Gilead.  Gilead is a theocracy that conquered the United States and is suffering from a declining birth rate.  Offred, the main character, is forced to copulate and give birth to children that are raised by infertile couples.  Offred belongs to a man named Fred hence her name (Offred) Of Fred. 

The Handmaid's Tale takes place in a completely cashless and chauvinistic society.  We are now entering a similar type of cashless society that no longer takes checks and the book is becoming very relevant.  All women have had their assets frozen and taken away as well as their basic rights and freedoms.  Reading is forbidden because it is a dangerous activity.  Eventually Offred learns of an underground movement and makes a courageous decision to take her fate into her own hands. 

The Handmaid's Tale has won and been nominated for many book awards.  It has been made into an opera (which I saw several years ago) and it also been challenged and banned in schools. 

The controversy: A Judson, Tex., school superintendent banned the novel from an advanced placement English curriculum after a parent complained that it was sexually explicit and offensive to Christians. In doing so, the superintendent overruled the recommendation by a committee of teachers, students, and parents. The committee appealed the decision to the school board, which overruled the superintendent in 2006

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Parents complained about sexual and anti-religious content.

I challenge you to exercise your first amendment rights by reading a banned book.  Unlike Offred, YOU are FREE to read any book you choose.  Choose Wisely!!

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