CliffsNotes on Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

CliffsNotes on Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

CliffsNotes on Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

CliffsNotes on Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

Excerpt

In the mid-1980s near Boston, Massachusetts, a cabal of rightwing fundamentalists murders the U.S. President and members of Congress, disenfranchises women by impounding their credit cards and denying them jobs and education, and sets up Gilead, a repressively conservative state bent on annihilating homosexuals, abortionists, and religious sects other than their own, and resettling Jews, old women, and nonwhite people in radioactive territory, known as the Colonies. Because nuclear and biological warfare has polluted vast areas, the population suffers a sharp decline in viable births and a rise in birth defects. Consequently, infertile and aged females, as well as homosexuals, are dispatched as clean-up crews in the Colonies. Fertile women involved in illicit liaisons or second marriages are apprehended, indoctrinated, and parceled out to Commanders of the secret police as Handmaids. These reduniformed breeders live in seclusion and virtual slavery and are deprived of their real names and labeled with a patronym of the men who control their lives-as in “Ofcharles” and “Ofwarren.” The purpose of these polygynous relationships is the perpetuation of the white race, which carries on warfare in outlying areas in a struggle for supremacy.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.