The Handmaid’s Tale



Margaret Atwood, a famous Canadian poet, provided us with The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985 and proposed a problem that is still relevant today.

The book follows a character we come to know as Offred in a dystopian society where women are held with importance, because the birth rates are so low.

Offred has been made a handmaid. A handmaid is under the rule of the higher class men and their wives, is given the job of procreation, and is forced under strict rules and regulations. The handmaids are forced to wear red dresses covering all of their body, and headdresses preventing their peripheral vision.

These outfits create a sense of division within the society. The dresses mark them as property and walking wombs. The handmaids will typically shop for the household and lay with the head of the household.

Offred is particularly interesting because she remembers the world before the revolution that has lead to the reformation of society. She is struggling to keep the details of her previous life, but is losing some, either through repression or simply forgetting.

Offred holds so many of her emotions and impulses in as she attempts to find a way out of the world she is in. Fear motivates her and chaos ensues as she begins to explore the people around her more and more.

Atwood presents an interesting  structure of plot, sending us from the present to the past and back again, over and over. This keeps us constantly informed with the way Offred’s mind has slowly altered as time has carried her further into her new position in life. She is constantly recounting her lover before the reformation, Luke, her time at a camp that was meant to train her to be a handmaid, her best friend, Moira, and her daughter. She is trying to hold onto these memories as she is faced with new and challenging obstacles in her household.

The obstacles force Offred into a precarious place where she is sneaking behind the commander, the head of the house, with the guard, Nick, under Serena Joy’s, the commander’s wife, order. She is also sneaking around with the commander under Serena Joy’s nose. Offred is trying to gather herself and gain a foothold into some way to get free.  Offred is also becoming closer to her walking partner, a handmaid named Ofglen, who is involved with an underground resistance.

The issues that the book propose are heavily embellished with controversy over abortion, maternity, rape, and gender superiority. All of these things are present in modern day life and have raised controversy within the general population on the social and political front.

Atwood presents us with incredible characters, who are dynamic and real, incredibly poetic diction, wonderfully chosen dialogue, and a narrative that can touch anyone who is willing to read it.

The novel is a socially and politically awakening piece that forces the reader to pay attention, come back for more, and address the problems involved with empathy and sincerity.

Animal Farm Review

Animal Farm, written by George Orwell in 1945, recounts the dangerous life of farm animals on their farm. The main characters are depicted in a simple format and writing style , but the entire plot of the story alludes to the communist party/ the Soviet related events that were unfolding in Orwell’s life as he aged. (Orwell is known for being against totalitarianism).The novel’s main characters are Napoleon and Snowball (pigs), the two leaders of the animal’s revolution in the story. They first overthrow their human owner with the help of the animal’s original leader, a pig named Squealer. They overthrow  Mr.. Jones, then move to the rules of Animalism, making sure the the main rule is “Four legs, good, two legs , bad.” Everything is fine at first, but when Squealer dies and Napoleon/ Snowball come into power, the rules become unclear. All the other animals still follow, although uneasily, and they build windmills, start trading with other farms(though at first the rule stated not to); they even set up battalions to defend the farm when need be.

The pigs begin to take more power then the other animals, despite the rules telling every animal that all animals are equal. The pigs are vicious, they relentlessly work the animals until each is gaunt and sickly. One valiant horse, Boxer, nearly works himself to death. He is not rewarded, but later in the story is shipped off to be processed into glue. All the animals start to question the rules when this happens, but none fight against it. The pigs being walking upright. They are fed more food than the other animals who work more. They even sleep in beds and carry walking sticks. All of these things are prohibited; somehow, the pigs still manage to twist the rules, all because they are in power. At the end of they story, the pigs are seen trading with humans, and the other animals cannot tell the difference between the pigs and the men.

This idea Orwell was trying to create was about how twisted the socialist rulew become once put into law. He was against both capitalism and totalitarianism in any form, but he blatanly bashed the communist system in this story without actually stating it. Napolean and Snowball are allusions to the men in power during communist times while he was alive. The entire story is an allegory to the problems in the Soviet system.

I enjoyed this book thouroughly; it provided me with insight into Orwell’s mindset on communism and explained using examples the way the socialist party fell apart under aggressive powers trying to take advantage of hard- working men and woman beneath them. In communism, the people in power have an easy life and the men and women breath do not. They struggle, they survive with the bare minimum. This book, although fictional, proves the communist system to not work.

I love George Orwell and his works. He has an amazing mindset on certain things and tends to be brutally honest in his work. My next book review might even be on his story, ” 1984.”


The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Review

When I decided to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, for the first time, I knew going into it that it would be a hard book to fully absorb due to the level of reality and blunt, teenage, mentally ill mentality that it expresses through the main character’s point of view, in the format of letters written to an unknown targeted audience. The book explores the narrator’s transition into adolescence and young adulthood during early high school years. The book focuses mainly on the life of one teen and shows the struggle of growing up and living through high school years under the pressure of mental illness, peer pressure, and finding yourself in a mentality far away from anyone else.

One of the main, most looked over conflicts in the book is Charlie’s, the narrator’s, devolving and dissasociated mental state in the letters, compared to how he appears to his friends and classmates, most of whom overlook him entirely or take him to be in a stable mindset. Since the narrator had been so overlooked throughout his life, even by family, he was never able to feel like he fit into any community, but after meeting Sam and Patrick, he realized that being a wallflower might not be such a bad thing after all. With his newly found acquaintances, Charlie explores his adolescence and personality in a way that he never had before. He was able to attend parties, experience his first real kiss, and deconstruct what it means to be a true high schooler, all while feeling very distant in his emotions. While realizing that this feeling of distance might not be normal, the narrator experiments and explores his boundaries, human connection, and even a first love. Slowly, Charlie becomes okay with being not okay, and over time, develops a sense of belonging with his new friends while he accepts that he might never be above average. In my experience, most teenagers can relate to the narrator, in that everyone, at some point in their lives, feels like they do not belong, and that feeling is much stronger with some than with others. Teenagers can relate not only because we, as teenagers, sometimes do not belong, but we have to learn to be content with ourselves as people and the things that we cannot change, including out mindset, loves, and hopes, which was one of Charlie’s biggest mental obstacles throughout his high school years.

To me, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, as a whole, is even more than an extremely powerful book. I personally believe that every person, teenagers and adults alike, should have the opportunity to read this book at some point throughout their lives, because everyone will undoubtedly take something away from this book, even if it’s only to write letters to themselves sometimes, or to put their emotions, troubles, loves, and grievances onto paper as a means to express themselves and let their feelings flow freely to someone who will never judge.