Offred is a handmaid in a Christian theocracy existing in what was once the United States. Her function is to produce a child for couples who cannot conceive. She is forbidden from reading and must cover her body at all times. She is valued only as a vessel for a potential heir. Her mind is suppressed, her individuality taken.
With all that has been going on these days about evolution being removed from school curriculums and abstinence-only education, Atwood paints a dismal picture of what is increasingly appearing to be a possible future. Most importantly, perhaps, she posits this world coming from a great disaster (albeit one that leaves most men sterile) and some connections may be made to the terrorist paranoia of recent years.
Atwood is a fantastic writer with an easy-to-read style and multi-layered storytelling. This is one of the aspects I’ve enjoyed most about her books. It is possible to read them for their surface story, but if interested, there are all sorts of allusions to discover.
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