The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood… A Puzzling Dilemma

Well, this is going to be a first… as some of you know, I am back in school again after 15 years. Just so all of you know?? IT IS NOT LIKE RIDING A BIKE!! Ha ha!

Figuring things out after all this time has been quite the conundrum, and I’m having a very hard time settling back into the world of formal writing. I mean “keep emotions out of it??” ME?!?! Ugh. I get tired just thinking about it.

My first essay due is on “The Handmaid’s Tale” and since I have all of you wonderful people out there, and I’m sure many of you have read this book, you will all now be subjected to my inane and confused blather as I try to wrap my head around the MOST RIDICULOUSLY VAGUE BOOK I’VE EVER READ!!!

handmaids tale


Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

Garbled Nonsense…

Well, first things first… does anyone understand ANYTHING happening in this book? Is it just me who read the whole thing and thought…. BUT, WHAT IS ACTUALLY GOING ON??

I think my biggest issue is that in making this Gilean Society timeless and relatable, she made it so vague that I’m left with only questions and no answers. I completed the book without a sense of understanding about the society, or the world that it’s set in.

Who was this unknown army?

Why is this society living in this fashion, but the rest of the world seems to be continuing on fairly normally?

Where are “the colonies”, and where are these battles taking place? ….and why is this “nuclear fallout” that the unwomen have to clean up not effecting the rest of the world?

Why did any of this even start to begin with? Who made the decision? (I understand it was something to do with the birth rate of caucasian children…but, that still doesn’t really explain this societal setup..especially since they made it sound like it was implemented so quickly with no prior warning)

If this was all to help raise the birthrate of caucasian children… what happened to anyone who was NOT caucasion?

help me

I will say that one thing I loved about the book is that Atwood has a wonderful way with words,

“A return to traditional values. Waste not want not. I am not being wasted. Why do I want?”

“Nothing takes place in the bed but sleep; or no sleep. I try not to think too much. Like other things now, thought must be rationed.”

“It isn’t running away they’re afraid of. We wouldn’t get far. It’s those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself given a cutting edge.” 

Through a few simple phrases she incites such desolation. You can immediately grasp the lack of the personal in this society. Thoughts and words are to be kept to oneself, and even then, are dangerous.

Though thoughts may be dangerous, Offred still holds out hope with small defiances against authority,

“I raise my head a little, to help him, and he sees my eyes and I see his, and he blushes…..a small defiance of rule, so small as to be undetectable, but such moments are the rewards I hold out for myself, like the candy I hoarded, as a child, at the back of a drawer. Such moments are possibilities, tiny peepholes.”

“My name isn’t Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now bacuse it’s forbidden….I keep the knowledge of this name like something hidden, some treasure I’ll come back to dig up, one day.”

“As long as we do this, butter our shin to keep it soft, we can believe that we will some day get out, that we will be touched again, in love or desire.” 

I also enjoyed… ok, maybe “enjoyed” shouldn’t be the word that I use when you see where I’m going with this… but, I thought it was more realistic that through the whole book Offred is pining for her child and her husband, but there is no happy ending for them. I love that her hopes basically go nowhere, because in a situation like this, and the war-like times, there were many people who had no idea where their family was and whether they were dead or alive.

If you’d like to pick up a copy of your own, for those of you who haven’t read it, get your copy HERE!

What are your thoughts on the society and setting of this book and how it reflects to our own?? Share your thoughts in the comments below!!

The Handmaid’s Tale is Best Served with an Aunt Jemima Cocktail


“Who else among the Son’s of Jacob Think-Tankers would have come up with the notion that the Aunts should take names derived from commercial products available to women in the immediate pre-Gilead period, and thus familiar and reassuring to them – the names of cosmetic lines, cake mixes, frozen desserts, and even medicinal remedies?”

So… you KNOW there had to be an Aunt Jemima out there!!




  • 1/2oz Brandy
  • 1/2oz White Creme de Cacao
  • 1/2oz Benedictine


  1. Pour ingredients, in order they are listed, slowly over the rounded side of a spoon one by one to layer
  2. CHEERS!!




47 thoughts on “The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood… A Puzzling Dilemma

Add yours

  1. Gotten really far with that essay huh? 😉😄
    Does this society reflect ours? yes and no. Yes because in many circumstances women’s voices are not heard if they speaking about something that others, in positions of more power, don’t want to be said.
    No because we do have hope for change. As bad as things are in some places and instances, improvements have been coming. In Gilead I felt like there was no hope. Nothing much in the story made me hopeful. Perhaps towards the end… maybe… but even then that last bit of hope I held out for something more to happen was ripped away by the ‘incompleteness’ of the story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. some days I like to believe we’ve come a long ways from the 1400-1600s english witch trials

      During some witch trials the husband would attest that their wife was in his arms at the very moment she was accused of frolicking with the devil, but the archbishop explained that a demon had taken the place of the wife. The idea being that man didn’t have the power of perception that exceeded Satan’s power of deception
      Also men stripped women of clothes to search for devil marks aka birthmarks and for every woman you turned In and was burnt you were rewarded with 20 shillings

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I can only imagine that there were a couple of husbands that burnt along side their wife if they protested too much about their wife being burned at the stake.
        It was thought that women were more susceptible to the temptation of the devil which is why they were more witches than warlocks
        Men were also burnt for witchcraft but they were called the warlocks.

        Institutionalized religion create a framework for it. And persecuted anyone who was seen as a threat to their power now that I’m typing about it I’m reminded of this one guy called William Tyndale who translated the Bible from Latin to English way before Martin Luther , the church didn’t like the idea that they would be a unintermediated link to God. he was chased all over Europe eventually captured tortured and burned at the stake for good measure his copies of the Bible where then hunted down house to house by armed Christians.
        I should probably stop typing before I rant any longer because despite the rise of the scientific method and a conception of empiricism pretty ludicrous things happen all around us.
        Like in 1993 three teenagers were tried for the murder of some boys and the accusation was that these boys were murdered for a Satanic ritual despite they’re being NO evidence

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, I’m going to try to keep MY mouth shut and try not to go on a rant about how the world is a ludicrously awful place and people always seem to be blaming all the evil in the world on “saran” when they were supposedly given freewill and can make their own stupid choices. Even if these kids had murdered someone in a “satanic ritual” (supposedly) they were MURDERED. That would be the main concern… It’s the people who murder in “God’s name”…. Did “God” or “Satan” ask for this??… I’m going to go with.. No. So, they can’t be blamed for the action….. But, I Digress. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I felt there was hope in this novel… With all the little things that Offred did like looking remembering her name and buttering her face (… A phrase I never thought I would use??), but the little things that she did really made me wonder what other people thought and felt (of didn’t think and feel). If she was trying to do little things to keep her identity… We’re there others out there besides this secret “mayday” society that we’re looking for an out? And why couldn’t they just leave this place in general and find a place in the parts if the world that seemed like they were still normal?? 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I got the impression security and guards were too much for escape… plus the other women, some of whom seemed to be just as bad as the men in terms of restricting the handmaids.
        Buttering her face is indeed a unique one…. 😄

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh….well…I have not read this book, so unfortunately I can’t help you with it (and I really would have wanted to help you with it if I could have😢). This does sound like the kind of book that would probably make my brain explode were I even to attempt it 😅😅 I hear there is a tv series for it as well. Maybe that’s worth watching and will help you understand it better?? 🤔🤔
    Oh….and I know I have said it before but I’ll say it again anyway: I think it’s amazing that you are going back to school! It takes an enormous amount of guts, and I think it’s absolutely awesome! 😊😊 YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m avoiding the show because they usually take some artistic licences with them and I can’t afford to make reference to something that isn’t in the book… They may have clarified some things as Magaret Atwood was signed on as a creative consultant for it… But, if it wasn’t clear in the book, than it’s probably something I shouldn’t know. 😉


  3. I openly admit that I detested The Handmaid’s Tale. I hated Offred for being so damned passive and I hated the lack of world building. The problem is, you only see things from Offred’s perspective and she’s too busy staring at her leg hair to give much detail and I get the feeling this was done deliberately so Atwood didn’t have to bother creating an actual world because it’s all so surface level. There’s no depth at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. THANK YOU!!! I have to write an essay on the society and setting and all I keep thinking is… WHAT SOCIETY AND SETTING?!? She keeps it so vague that I don’t understand ANY of what’s going on!? It’s been very frustrating… Ha ha! The little things that Offred did to toe the line definitely had me wondering what other people did and how they thought… Or disnt think. It really would have been nice to get some other people’s perspectives. Especially throughout the classes. Like Serena (the wife), or one of the Martha’s, or Nick would have been interesting… But, it may have ruined the ridiculous vagueness of the ending. 😉😉😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I found the most interesting part to be the excerpt from the conference at the end, from the future. You get more of a sense of the world from that little bit than the entire novel.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oops… Didn’t mean to hit send right away!… I just didn’t feel that it was enough. It was more about trying to figure out who the Commander and Serena were, and giving us clues in the process…. I still. Don’t feel that it was ENOUGH, though… But, I could be wrong! Hence this attempt at a discussion! 😂 I’m just hoping to enlighten myself… I have no problem admitting when I miss something. 😉🍻

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I read this a loooooong time ago haha the TV show has been only a tiny refresher. You are right I think it is vague on purpose so we can see that something like this can actually happen. Kind of a scary book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree that something like this COULD happen eventually… Absolutely… I just feel that in her book it all seemed to happen so quickly that it seemed unbelievable, and the fact that it happened without any proper explanation seemed even MORE unbelievable..

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had to read this book in gr 12 and had to write an essay. All
    I can say is…. I hated every second of this book! I don’t even think I finished reading it. Somehow I wrote my essay but of course it was crap. I have pretty much banished that time frame from my life as it felt like pure torture!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I picked this book up several years ago and promptly put it back down, never to be picked up again. I’m a different reader now, so I want to try again, but your thoughts have me second guessing that. 😂 Yay for being back in school! Go, Nicole! Yummy drink! 🍹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha!! Ya… I kind of wish I had read it without the stresses of writing an essay.. Maybe I would have had a different opinion on the book… But, probably not. 😂😂 I had the chance a few months ago when it was the chosen book for my book club, and I may have received more insight into it.. But, my man and I went to Cuba instead. 😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I took most of my degree by distance and it definitely takes a lot of willpower to get through it. Do you have someone you can message for help?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Bloody computer…The series was addictive watching which makes me either sad or a good judge…I did silently scream at the screens at times …some of the acting though was brilliant …How close the series is to the book I obviously don’t know but the overriding thoughts I came away with is how such cruelty and yes there is much is mostly but not wholly directed at females and by females…That still goes on in society today and that is the sad thing…But I loved the series 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard that the series has a lot more to it. I’m avoiding watching it until after my essay is written because I don’t want something ending up in my paper that didn’t even occur in the book. 😂 I feel sorry for anyone who had already watched the series before taking this course, because I feel that will be fresh in their brains!


  8. Yeah I also personally viewed this book as nonsense (sorry to all the fans!) I just never believed in the world cos the whole setup doesn’t make any sense. And that’s not to say that there aren’t oppressive structures in the world or that there aren’t societies that oppress women- it’s just that I don’t believe it would go down like this. Even if all the vague stuff like a nuclear war and random people just taking over the US government would happen, how am I supposed to believe that a society that believes women should fundamentally be there to give birth to children, would separate a *wife* and *mother* from her husband and child? Surely it would have made more sense to have her stay with them and keep procreating? And what would have been a more interesting exploration of corruption would have been to have the husband transform into the oppressor (much like the way the husband becomes more oppressive in Thousand Splendid Suns after the Taliban gain power). Sorry for rambling- this is just a few of the reasons I’ve never been keen on this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I COMPLETELY AGREE!! It’s funny that you brought up the idea of keeping her with her man and him becoming the oppressor, because I got the impression that he already was when it all happened. They froze her accounts and he starts saying “don’t worry. I’ll take care of you”, and she even says that although he acted sympathetic, it seemed as though he was enjoying having the power… So, THAT would have been an interesting story, for sure!! 👍👍

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh it’s been a long time since I read it, so I didn’t remember that point- but it just makes me think more why didn’t Atwood just take it in that direction? He could have had another wife or something to hammer home the point- it didn’t need to be so unrealistic. Yes!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I agree. This book defintitely had a message and it really does reflect some societies around the world… I just don’t understand WHY any of it was happening, and what was going on with the rest of the world WHILE it was happening, and because I couldn’t understand that, it ruined a lot of the rest of the book…


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