The Handmaids Tale-Eternal Relevance

Everything in this icon book was something historical. M. Atwood who wrote a number of books, but seems to be forever attached to this one publication, sits in every interview with that little tidbit. It’s amazing to hear that women don’t understand that this is based on facts, on history, on the world that was. We seem to forget that we have in our short human existence seen only a fraction of the control and destruction that can result from a harsher world take over. But, as pointed out here: the history is not that old. This book has remained as eternally relevant because we are always facing moments in which we go far beyond what we think that we are capable of and delve into states of depravity, but the thing is, why don’t we talk about this history? Are we attempting to erase these moments so that people begin to think the rights we think we have had are not in fact things that ever existed?

Its a disturbing thought, but I have never been more afraid of being part of this until now. It seems lately we are fixated on removing the rights of women, of LGBTQ+, and of minorities as a whole. These are always signs that things are not going to get better, but this time, I also see something I have not witnessed in my lifetime, people are pushing back. There is a glint of hope that we have not burnt history so much and I think writers like Atwood have kept the light of memory on for us to ignite our passions and to remind us, this is what could be. The same is true of The Man in the High Castle, which is a reflexive view of fascism and communism, it’s disturbing to think that we are almost living in the world that may not know how we almost came close to the reality. We take things as a given and they are not. I think we should remember that when reading and examining books like The Handmaids Tale, we don’t read it as fiction, but read it as a reminder, a wake-up call, and remember what you could be living in.

Books like this one come along to slap us in the face as it were. I feel the same way about books like 1984 or even to some degree American Gods, they just hold a quirky odd relevance that takes your breath away. We look at the world through a lens of now, and that’s a mistake. We cannot look at the past through the lens of what we want to be or what we wish it was, we walk, as I have said before, on the bones of those who died to bring us the life we enjoy today. When I watched the original movie based on Atwood’s book, I didn’t quite understand it as well as I did the Hulu series. They are different than the book but the series on Hulu, shows us things that were not initially covered and also makes the wives of Gilead seem also prisoners of their own making, this is based on historical precedent as with other things. There are always those that will comply in hopes of survival, and those that die, if they cannot conform.

The Handmaids Tale’s reliance on fact is I think why it holds its eternal connection to us. It’s true, it is based on facts, and therefore it’s hard to ignore as a work of fiction. Knowing that, I believe is what makes it more terrifying. Would we wear a red cloak? Would we be the women in green, would we be sent to die? We don’t know, but the fact that this could be the choices we have to make gives us an uncomfortable feeling.

She updates the book constantly and reflects our current state in her novels giving us an eternal snapshot, I have yet to read Testaments but I want to. I want to know what the characters would reflectively view the world in which they live if that world continued on. Atwood dives into the potentials and views the world through those living in Gilead and those outside of it and I appreciate the constant reference to Canada as a Canadian the street views of Toronto are very recognizable and accurate as is the landscape, mannerisms, food, and culture without insulting it and without telling us we pronounce ‘about’ weird.

I also want to know if June made it out, that question I am still questioning as the show is taking turns and it’s been a while since I read the book, so I feel like I am coming back to an old friend that I am catching myself upon. The Handmaids Tale is a book people should read and should remember as a book built on what could be, what has been, and if we are not careful, what we could be again.

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