Completed September 9, 2015

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Oh, how I wanted a happy ending for her.  I thought of her as June, because that was the last name she mentioned when she identified her roommates in Chapter 1.  I desperately wanted June to rediscover her beloved Luke, to reunite with her daughter, to reconnect with her mother, to gloriously return to the life she had known before.


But 'twas not to be.  Even if she did manage to escape, even if Nick's motives were pure (or, at the very least, not entirely self-serving) she was not going back.  Her past was done, over, finished - and her future would be precarious and tinged with grief.  So much had been taken from her, and none of it would truly be restored.  That is the outrage inherent in this handmaid's tale.


Which brings me, gingerly, to the political overtones of this story.  They cannot be ignored, because Atwood proves to be such a perceptive prophet.  9/11, Homeland Security, Al Qaeda, ISIS, they're all here, although this book was written long before those events transpired.  The Holocaust and the Iron Curtain, relatively recent history at the time of publication, are here too.


The religious right did not begin with the modern Republican Party, but its dangerous ideology has found a home there.  When we long for a return to traditional values, when we mourn what used to be, do we realize how dangerous it is to try to recreate the past?  To erase difference and replace it with homogeneity?  I fear we will learn the consequences of our actions when it is too late to repair the wounds.  Yes, we are all "entitled" to our beliefs, but we are also required to account for our creed, to fully comprehend its logical extensions before we seek to impose it on others.


So I bid a sad farewell to June, who sought only love, and witnessed only hate.  May we always remember you, and create a world that pays tribute to your sacrifice.