Thursday, July 13, 2006

Stray thoughts, like bullets can be dangerous

The problem with books is that they make you think. Really good books make you think more than is comfortable. They stay in you head, dogging your thought, intruding on everyday life in a way that makes you see thing differently, whether you like it or not. They stray from their boundaries into how you see the world and people around you. It is very disconcerting, almost like a dream, or even nightmare that doesn't stop once you wake up.

Many of the books I've read lately have fallen into this category, but none more than The Handmaid's Tale. Reading it today I couldn't help but remember The Education of Frederic Douglass, an American Slave by Frederic Douglass(click here for an excellent reading) when the main character realises the she is now totally dependent on her husband economically. It reminded me of the chapter in Douglass's book which charts the awful change that a women who becomes a slave owner for the first time goes through.



melusina said...

I've been meaning to comment on this but haven't had much time for a real sit down to do it.

As far as slavery in The Handmaid's Tale, what struck me when I read it (it has been a year or so now) was how in this constructed society everyone is a slave, from the Handmaids to the wives, the husbands - everyone. So I don't see it as being a "slave owner" per se, because aside from a few different colors, everyone is just as oppressed in this society.

What did you think of the ending? My husband and I thought it was a bit weak for the story.

teacher dude said...

I would disagree since the Commander is one of those who created the society in which they live, and if he chooses to, can ignore their moral precepts. Similarly, The Wives have much more freedom than the The Handmaids. You could argue that all the women in the story, whatever their status are unfree, but not all the men.

Besides, all authoritarian societies rely on the support of a large portion of the population, otherwise they could not function.

"Every nation has the government it deserves."

- Joseph de Maistre

As far as the ending is concerned, I'm not sure what exactly it is trying to tell us, to tell you the truth.

melusina said...

I felt that the Commander started to feel enslaved as the story went on. Sure he can ignore the morality, but he *could* get in trouble for it. I don't know, I felt just as bad for the wives as the Handmaids, but maybe that is because I'm female and can see it from both perspectives.

Well, I think the ending was meant to be a bit enigmatic, but I thought it was forced and weakened the story, maybe because it was so enigmatic.

Did you see the movie? God, it was terrible.