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Stuff I’ve Been Reading: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood January 15, 2006

Posted by Amy in Uncategorized.

I read The Handmaid’s Tale about fifteen years ago, but the Alito hearings, threats to Roe v. Wade, and my own all-consuming interest in perceptions of mothering led me back to Atwood’s book. I invariably come away from her writing feeling awestruck. Her language and ideas are so simple and pure and strong.

This book, of course, is terrifying. So much that she writes of happening in a future that seemed ridiculous when I read it as a twenty-year-old now seems scarily possible. The new wave of faux-50s housewives connects, for me, with the way Offred has such vague memories of recent history. I’ve said, half-jokingly, that it seemed like no one remembers The Feminine Mystique anymore. Maybe it’s more than that, though. Here’s Offred reflecting about her own feelings about her second-wave feminist mom:

I admired my mother in some ways, although things between us were never easy. She expected too much from me, I felt. She expected me to vindicate her life for her, and the choices she’d made. I didn’t want to live my life on her terms. I didn’t want to be the model offspring, the incarnation of her ideas. We used to fight about that. I am not your justification for existence, I said to her once.



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