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Palimpsest: Novel vs. Show

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23 minutes ago, AllyB said:

The mother was proven mostly right in her politics but the way she undertook her activism ensured that even her own daughter mostly disregarded her.

I think you're spot on - June's choice to marry a "basic bro" like Luke and have a traditional family seems like a rebellion against her own upbringing and her mother's radical feminism. Despite being well-educated and having a very progressive and gutsy best friend in Moira, she was drawn to what she didn't have growing up.

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9 hours ago, AllyB said:

From latest episode thread;

That's consistent with the book. Offred realises that in his own way Luke was part of the problem. He didn't set out to create Gilead but once he found himself living in it he didn't see it as a problem because he didn't intend to take advantage of the power he now had over June. Offred grew to accept in hindsight that part of him enjoyed his new position. They didn't belong to 'each other' any more, 'she was his' and it suited him just fine. Luke had a regressive streak that he would see as benign but was ultimately what allowed for both Gilead to flourish and prevented his family from escaping while they might have still had a chance. Note how in the protest scenes in the series he was not with Moira and June. He didn't feel the need to protest at women being forced out of work and having control of their bank accounts handed over to their male family. We don't see the scenes when June gets home after witnessing her fellow protestors being gunned down but I can just imagine him holding her while she cried, 'sensitively' insisting she calm down, shutting down any instinct she might have had to run for the border. He would have been secretly relishing the paternalistic role he found himself in, he and June probably even had great sex that night with him on top so he could comfort and protect her.

Luke has always been a personification of 'First They Came..." He wasn't overly bothered when women lost so many rights because he wasn't a woman. He probably wasn't bothered enough to act when homosexuality was criminalised because he was straight. (Book) Luke likely told himself his Jewish colleague had always wanted to live in Israel and closed his doors and turned up the tv when the black family down the street was being relocated to the Homelands. He would have said all the 'right' things, muttered about how terrible it was, 'sincerely' talk about how it must surely all blow over soon. And inside he would have had an ever growing sense of satisfaction at how pronounced his privilege had become while congratulating himself on what a great guy he was to still treat his wife well. And then of course, Gilead came for him.

I kind of wish all of this was in the book questions thread, under spoiler tags.

Maybe you could ask and answer your own question there?  Ha.  I bet a lot of people would want to know what the deal is with Luke.

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Have only watched the first episode so far, and it's OK, but one thing I'm not thrilled by is the decision to let us know Offred's real name in her previous life and also identifying the Commander as Waterford. In the novel, I don't recall ever knowing the narrator by her given name, and the name Waterford was reserved for the "Historical Notes" at the end. And that worked for me--the reader being denied the pre-Gilead names helped create the sense that the old world was gone forever, which made the nightmare of the new world all the more terrifying. Atwood knew what she was doing.

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Atwood identifies June and her friends at the end of Chapter 1.  By process of elimination (stories about the various other 4(?) girls), you can figure out that Offred's name is June but you're never directly told so.  I agree with your comment about it being more terrifying that her name has been wiped out by the powers that be.  One thing I think is kinda odd is that people seem to be pronouncing Offred (Off-red) like it looks instead of like it's a patronymic name (Of-Fred).  Maybe it's just my hearing.

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9 minutes ago, crowceilidh said:

One thing I think is kinda odd is that people seem to be pronouncing Offred (Off-red) like it looks instead of like it's a patronymic name (Of-Fred).  Maybe it's just my hearing.

No, I agree with you. Reading the book, I assumed the pronunciation of names was consistent with the meanings of names. (Go figure.) 

Based on having seen the first episode only, I don't know how the audience could be expected to understand the possessive-patronymic meaning if it hasn't read the book. 

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1 minute ago, Milburn Stone said:

Based on having seen the first episode only, I don't know how the audience could be expected to understand the possessive-patronymic meaning if it hasn't read the book. 

It becomes obvious as more handmaids are named.

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1 hour ago, crowceilidh said:

 

Atwood identifies June and her friends at the end of Chapter 1.  By process of elimination (stories about the various other 4(?) girls), you can figure out that Offred's name is June but you're never directly told so.

 

Point of interest, there is an interesting interview with Atwood where she mentions intentionally not naming the protagonist. Then she had heard that within discussion groups people were coming to the same conclusion you have. She thought it was interesting and figured why not. Quote with citation below for additional reading (it is an interesting article, though scant on details it is interesting in insight to Atwood's thought process). 

"Why do we never learn the real name of the central character, I have often been asked. Because, I reply, so many people throughout history have had their names changed, or have simply disappeared from view. Some have deduced that Offred’s real name is June, since, of all the names whispered among the Handmaids in the gymnasium/dormitory, “June” is the only one that never appears again. That was not my original thought but it fits, so readers are welcome to it if they wish."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/books/review/margaret-atwood-handmaids-tale-age-of-trump.html?_r=0

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I've always wondered what point Atwood was making when she wrote Offred's mother and I wonder if she was making a point about the overly dogmatic nature of some protestors. The mother was proven mostly right in her politics but the way she undertook her activism ensured that even her own daughter mostly disregarded her. I also wonder about the way we were introduced to the mother, not just misleading and disappointing her very young daughter but doing that so she could engage in the dramatic censorship of publicly burning magazines. Neither act makes her a sympathetic character because while I suspect that much of the pornography industry is exploitative, burning magazines makes me much more uncomfortable than porn. (Though maybe that was different in the mid-80s when the scene was written and burning porn magazines was normal feminist activity?)

One theme Atwood was making biting, wry commentary on (when she wrote this in the early 80s) was that there was indeed a Puritanical streak in the more militant strains of anti-porn feminism in the 70s and 80s. Yet simultaneously on the Right, religious conservatism was getting more and more traction than it ever had.  Both seemed to be okay with a little censorship in the name of "protecting" women from dangerous hypersexualized images in the media and pop culture.....but for different reasons.

I distinctly remember a scene where Aunt Lydia (or maybe another Aunt) was showing and shunning archival footage of "unwomen" (feminists protesting like June's mother) and saying something in her schoolmarm voice--which I now fully associate with Ann Dowd btw who I think is chilling in the role--like "now they right about few things, but....." etc etc  I don't have a physical copy of the book anywhere (probably loaned it out, it's such a favorite of mine) to look up the exact quote. I kind of want to re-read after the show is over to unpack the role of the mother, now.

Edited by JasonCC
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You pretty much have to name Waterford for the show to work.  She would know his name, as would the servants, and others.  It was fine in the book, especially the speculation at the end that she deliberately didn't name him as a sort of protection for her and possibly her daughter, as well as anyone that helped her escape.  It wouldn't work in the show though, not only cumbersome but kind of silly really, since we are actually watching and not just reading future tapes.

I never thought her name was June though, but it doesn't bother me that they show decided to call her that.  Basically, same reasons, she would have hidden her name completely while on the run.

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I think it's easier for the book to get away with never naming names because it's from a much smaller more claustrophobic POV.  We never get outside of Offred's head until the epilogue.  We're not seeing wider lens waiting room scenes or days at the market where lots of interactions are happening where people obviously know to which house she belongs and in some cases it would look downright silly or convoluted for them not to use the most obvious identifier.  By including the stuff about Emily moving houses to go from being original recipe Ofglen to Ofsteven and seeing the confusion it causes for Offred and then being pulled away at the end before she can tell Emily her real name, we're still getting the point that these women have officially had their identities stripped away and how impossible that would make it to locate them or find out what happens to them.

I accept that some things aren't going to translate as written particularly well to TV with an expanded show universe.  Part of watching TV and figuring out relationships between characters for me is knowing what to call them.

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An aside about anti-porn feminism in the 80s and beyond: It was a fairly widely accepted or perhaps a growing belief, based on some scientific study, amongst educated people in the 1980s that those who were the "actors" in porn had experienced sexual trauma or interference, generally as children, and were acting out their pain.  (I knew a number of men at the time who, having read the studies, were no longer able to watch strippers comfortably).  IIRC the stats were overwhelmingly supportive of this idea.  Now that everyone is growing up with early exposure to porn and self promotion/display, I think it's harder to maintain that stance, but I haven't followed the scientific literature on it in decades.  I know that when I was studying sexual addiction at the end of the century, perpetrators themselves often anecdotally traced direct lines from porn-watching to their eventual participation in violent sexual crimes.  Based on the google search results I just got trying (and failing) to find one of the seminal (ho ho HO) books I read on the subject way back, I think those who study it now believe that porn can fuel sexual violence.

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On 4/30/2017 at 1:17 PM, Eyes High said:

Margaret Atwood's involved in the show and is said to be working on another book set in the same universe (see AllyB's post). Maybe she'll sketch out some ideas for them...?

I wonder if Atwood gave her blessing/permission for the show precisely because she already had it in her mind to write a sequel novel, and what better way to create a pre-sold market for it?

Edited by Milburn Stone
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On 5/14/2017 at 9:15 PM, Milburn Stone said:

I wonder if Atwood gave her blessing/permission for the show precisely because she already had it in her mind to write a sequel novel, and what better way to create a pre-sold market for it?

Could be that, or just money, or just really wanting this story back in the public eye at this time.  I'll never fault an author for trying to make a living, most of them are hardly rich, only a select few make it to that level.

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Karma is a bitch and Serena Joy is certainly getting a dose of that now. IMO she and her husband deserve so, so much more. Either by outside forces, such as they get captured by the resistance, or even sweeter, they are done in by the government and ideology they helped create. I could really see the second happening, I think Freddy and Serena think right now they above reproach but I don't think anyone is really safe in Gilead. Though both should've thought about it when they helped create an oppressive Regime, but it will give me some evil joy if that same Regime has them hanging on the wall by the river before all is said and done.

 

Well, we know the Commander will meet a nasty end, and let's hope that plays out on the show!  I'd love to see Serena Joy become an unwoman and be sent to the colonies.  I can't imagine they would keep her around without him.  They don't like her kind, even if she did help them accomplish all of this.  She has no value, and is a potential problem, so easiest to ship her out.

Edited by Umbelina · Reason: quoted wrong person, oops sorry!
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1 minute ago, Umbelina said:

 

Well, we know the Commander will meet a nasty end, and let's hope that plays out on the show! 

I am completely blanking on this...what happens to him? (And I even re-read the book a few weeks ago!)

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16 minutes ago, Eureka said:

I am completely blanking on this...what happens to him? (And I even re-read the book a few weeks ago!)

The Commander  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid's_Tale#The_Commander

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The Commander says that he is a sort of scientist and was previously involved in something similar to market research, pre-Gilead. Later, it is hypothesized, but not confirmed, that he might have been one of the architects of the Republic and its laws. Presumably, his first name is "Fred", though that, too, may be a pseudonym.

He engages in forbidden intellectual pursuits with Offred, such as playing Scrabble, and introduces her to a secret club that serves as a brothel for high-ranking officers. Offred learns that the Commander carried on a similar relationship with his previous handmaid and that she killed herself when his wife found out. In the epilogue the academics speculate that one of two figures, both instrumental in the establishment of Gilead, may have been Fred, based on his first name. It is strongly suggested that the Commander was a man named Frederick R. Waterford who was killed in a purge shortly after Offred was taken away, charged with harboring an enemy agent.

 

I always thought it was Fred too, so soon after Offred escapes he's dead dead dead, and Serena Joy would become an un-woman faster than she could take off her lovely blue dress.

Tracking the two Commanders was the easiest way to try to verify Offred's tale, or track her...

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8 hours ago, Umbelina said:

quote from @ElectricBoogaloo

Well, we know the Commander will meet a nasty end, and let's hope that plays out on the show!  I'd love to see Serena Joy become an unwoman and be sent to the colonies.  I can't imagine they would keep her around without him.  They don't like her kind, even if she did help them accomplish all of this.  She has no value, and is a potential problem, so easiest to ship her out.

FYI - that quote is actually from @HeySandyStrange, not me!

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Ooops, so sorry, I'll edit.  I meant to tag you in the topic you were discussing in the other thread, but looks like I blew it.

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I have caught myself trying to talk about the Econowives in the episode threads so many times. Where are they?! It seems odd to cut them out of the show, especially given June's backstory.

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I know!  What an odd thing to leave out, and I've had to edit myself as well a few times.  I mean at least put them in the background in the supermarket scenes or something, and have a one or two line exposition line from the handmaids, or a Martha, or have the wives in blue gossip about them.

It's bizarre not to have them at all.

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On 5/5/2017 at 11:13 AM, nycapa said:

I wanted to chime in about the choice to make the show's version of Gilead "post-racial".  I agree that it is very problematic to suggest an extremely misogynistic world would not also be extremely racist, it does not make logical sense and I don't think ignoring race was the only way to avoid ending up with an all-white cast.  They are, after all, making the flashback scenes much more elaborate than the book, and could have included plenty of diversity in those scenes, even if they felt that delving deeply into the Children of Ham story was out of the scope of the series.  But now that they've made this decision, I hope (and feel they may) use this diversity to add nuance to these characters and perhaps the showrunner was downplaying the impact of the casting on the story.  For example, Moira has been portrayed from the beginning as being more cynical, more politically aware, bolder, and with much more of a rebel's spirit than June.  She has a personality that could inspire resistance, and clearly she does inspire this in June.  I see this part of her character being very tied to having lived a life fighting prejudices even in normal society in a way that June as a cis white person never did.  That contrast could be very compelling to explore.  Ofglen/Emily is similarly portrayed, she has a lifetime of being a marginalized person to draw from.  For June, though she is a woman and obviously the evil of the patriarchy is the heart of story, she still lived a life of relative privilege.  She had probably done fine in life just going along with the status quo, not having to think much about oppression, hence why she did not wake up until it was too late.  She is obviously not a willfully ignorant person, but perhaps allowed herself to be a little blissfully ignorant.  Making Luke and therefore Hannah POC is fascinating to me, because I want to know more about how June perceived their experiences as a person who never had to personally deal with racism.  And what does that say about June that the two people she was closest to in life - Luke and Moira - were people of color?  Did she consider herself colorblind?  Or did she recognize how their experiences of the world were different from her own?  When you take a look at the palette of different characters this adaptation works with, they do in fact represent a large spectrum with no two major characters occupying exactly the same status in this world.  From highest privilege - Fred, to lowest - Moira, and multiple levels in between.  Where would a black man like Luke fall in the spectrum?  Of greater privilege than Aunt Lydia because he is a man?  Or of less because he is black?

I really wonder if they would have made the same choice regarding race if the filming had started right after or during Trumo's campaign. This has been in post production for a while and I feel like it might have been easier to talk themselves into this sort of colorblind story telling as being a good thing. Post Trump? 

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I think they are either reassigned or they get to become Econowives or Aunts or Martha's. I think their reward is not getting shipped off to the Colonies where, depending on the luck of the draw, you could end up picking tomatoes or cleaning up toxic waste. 

I didn't read this entire thread, but when Atwood was writing there was no Internet as we know it. Not sure whether I had to specify my gender when I signed up for it. 

Is it only me, or is Serena Joy beautiful in the Hulu series? Reminds me of Sharon Stone a bit. 

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I think 

On 5/19/2017 at 6:13 PM, FozzyBear said:

I really wonder if they would have made the same choice regarding race if the filming had started right after or during Trumo's campaign. This has been in post production for a while and I feel like it might have been easier to talk themselves into this sort of colorblind story telling as being a good thing. Post Trump? 

Whatever faults Trump has, I doubt he has any interest in creating a state religion. He doesn't seem all that religious to me. I think he panders to Christians, but that is different. I think Hulu made Gilead racially diverse because that is what TV casts look like these days. It would have looked the same in 2012.

I may be cynical, but I think Hulu wanted to scare as many women as possible. But I've lived too long and have too much faith in American institutions (as well as in her people) to buy into the hype surrounding this show. 

The book was better, but the book is almost always better, IMO. 

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5 hours ago, Banshee said:

Is it only me, or is Serena Joy beautiful in the Hulu series? Reminds me of Sharon Stone a bit. 

I always confuse that actress for Diane Kruger. I'm mesmerized by her perfect eyebrows.

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9 hours ago, Banshee said:

I didn't read this entire thread, but when Atwood was writing there was no Internet as we know it. Not sure whether I had to specify my gender when I signed up for it. 

Is it only me, or is Serena Joy beautiful in the Hulu series? Reminds me of Sharon Stone a bit. 

I did wonder what, if anything, would have been different about the book had it been written later, with the Internet accessible to all. It was a bit of a surprise to see the Commander using a laptop. Serena Joy and everyone else would presumably not be allowed to use it.

I do agree that Serena Joy is beautiful. That was another change from the book, where she seemed much older, and was described as walking with a limp. Sharon Stone didn't occur to me, but I did think of a small reunion of Mad Men's women with January Jones playing her. She has that same "perfect Stepford Wife" quality with plenty of rage and cruelty simmering underneath that Betty did.

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53 minutes ago, GreekGeek said:

I did wonder what, if anything, would have been different about the book had it been written later, with the Internet accessible to all. It was a bit of a surprise to see the Commander using a laptop. Serena Joy and everyone else would presumably not be allowed to use it.

I do agree that Serena Joy is beautiful. That was another change from the book, where she seemed much older, and was described as walking with a limp. Sharon Stone didn't occur to me, but I did think of a small reunion of Mad Men's women with January Jones playing her. She has that same "perfect Stepford Wife" quality with plenty of rage and cruelty simmering underneath that Betty did.

Funny that you mention January Jones from Mad Men in comparison to the character of Serena Joy, because I was just watching an episode of the second season of Versailles, and the way the actress who portrays the queen (of a king who flouts his mistress) acts reminds me of January Jones in Mad Men, and that got me to think that there is a way to play honorable wife cheated upon that is very true to life (I've met a few) but that the public (in this case courtesans at Versailles court, but sometimes TV viewing public too) sees and interprets as "cold, stuck-up, aloof, thinks she's better than us" (the latter I've seen in real life), while it is just a portrayal of a deep wound that cannot be shown, or even acknowledged to self. Serena Joy has that quality too, this "I'm better than you" image with deeper angst. Now, this is no judgment on what these women did or didn't to get to that point, and in that regards my sympathy would go first to Betty Draper, then to the wife of Louis 14th, and then to Serena Joy, but I think the feelings, the repressed anger, the obligation they put on themselves to act the part, are the same, really.     

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I don't know where to put this question. It's been bugging me and I don't recall if there was an explanation in the books. So, not that I wish more rape upon the Handmaids at all, but everyone knows if you are trying to conceive, you have sex more than once a month, especially since they are doing old-fashioned cycle tracking that's not all that accurate. I wonder how much of this "fertility crisis" TPTB are using as an excuse for this new order of society, so they are designing these things like the handmaids to seem like it's to help produce children, but not really. They have also eschewed all science, even things like delivering a baby in a hospital. Wouldn't more babies live in they were born in hospitals? I would think if everything's so precarious, they would all be having c-sections. What about ultrasounds? 

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The book didn't get into medical specifics, but I would assume ultrasound would never be allowed, since it would show deformed babies, with flippers, or no brain, and they had already outlawed abortion of any kind.

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Offred mentions during the wait for Janine to give birth that part of the anticipation was waiting to see if she had a healthy child or an unbaby, meaning one with obvious deformities.  She says once they would have already known because they used to be able to look with ultrasound but they don't do that now and it wouldn't matter anyway because they're required to give birth to whatever they carry.

I first read the book as a teenager years before I ever thought about having children.  It wasn't until a reread after I'd had them that I fully appreciated how patently ridiculous, impractical, or just needlessly cruel some of their reproductive practices really were.  My first child and I both would have been lost, for example, without the ability to perform an emergency C-section and access to resuscitating equipment and a NICU.

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9 hours ago, ChromaKelly said:

I don't know where to put this question. It's been bugging me and I don't recall if there was an explanation in the books. So, not that I wish more rape upon the Handmaids at all, but everyone knows if you are trying to conceive, you have sex more than once a month, especially since they are doing old-fashioned cycle tracking that's not all that accurate. I wonder how much of this "fertility crisis" TPTB are using as an excuse for this new order of society, so they are designing these things like the handmaids to seem like it's to help produce children, but not really. They have also eschewed all science, even things like delivering a baby in a hospital. Wouldn't more babies live in they were born in hospitals? I would think if everything's so precarious, they would all be having c-sections. What about ultrasounds? 

I don't know the answer to the first question, but the book does mention doctors waiting outside in a van, ready to be called in case of emergency, but otherwise shut out of the birthing process. It did occur to me that there would be fewer "shredders" (eek!) if they believed that God can work through medical science. They don't seem to consider it a priority to help babies born with disabilities to survive, in another example of their stupidity if low birth rate is such a problem. What happens if a child can live without high-tech machinery but is blind or deaf?

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On 5/22/2017 at 0:31 AM, GreekGeek said:

I don't know the answer to the first question, but the book does mention doctors waiting outside in a van, ready to be called in case of emergency, but otherwise shut out of the birthing process. It did occur to me that there would be fewer "shredders" (eek!) if they believed that God can work through medical science. They don't seem to consider it a priority to help babies born with disabilities to survive, in another example of their stupidity if low birth rate is such a problem. What happens if a child can live without high-tech machinery but is blind or deaf?

In a totalitarian state this brutal and stupid? Can you imagine a Commander and Wife proudly raising a child with Down's Syndrome? I certainly can't. I think a profoundly deaf or blind baby would be unlikely to survive. I wouldn't be surprised if even the tiniest 'flaws' result in a baby being deemed a shredder. Club foot or cleft palate? It would be a lucky baby to be kept. Tbh, I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope for a baby with obviously crossed eyes or a birthmark that couldn't easily be hidden. The Commanders don't really seem that interested in producing babies and saving humanity (or their race) so the fertility crisis has always felt like it might be over-exaggerated in order to justify their real goal of control. 

It's why I really dislike the Mexico story on the series. If the fertility crisis is as bad as the Mexican ambassador describes, then Gilead's policy of ignoring male fertility problems, pairing fertile women up with very likely infertile men, doing away with Handmaids quite quickly if they don't provide a healthy baby and killing babies that don't meet their standards (when we just know their standards are bound to be stupid) is actually more successful than other countries?!? That just seems like badly plotted crap to me all designed as part of a series of plot twists. Logic be damned. 

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Deaf and blind with no obvious physical signs of that (such as no ears or no eyes) would probably be kept.  I say that because it takes a while and good doctors to realize and infant is deaf or blind, and by that time, I think the mothers, and possibly even the fathers would be in love with a baby.  I say that especially because those specialist doctors are probably mostly dead now.

The others though?  Shredders probably.

Edited by Umbelina
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3 hours ago, Umbelina said:

Deaf and blind with no obvious physical signs of that (such as no ears or no eyes) would probably be kept.  I say that because it takes a while and good doctors to realize and infant is deaf or blind, and by that time, I think the mothers, and possibly even the fathers would be in love with a baby.  I say that especially because those specialist doctors are probably mostly dead now.

The others though?  Shredders probably.

Didn't it say in the book that it turned out Janine's baby was a shredder? I don't remember if we knew the time lag on that realization. I think we just found out that "it wasn't good after all."

Edited by Eureka
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14 minutes ago, Eureka said:

Didn't it say in the book that it turned out Janine's baby was a shredder? I don't remember if we knew the time lag on that realization. I think we just found out that "it wasn't good after all."

Yup.  I keep waiting for that to happen.

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I've started reading the book again, and a few things jumped out at me.  We know that Canada is still Canada -- and that they were hesitant to engage their brutal and militarily mighty neighbor to the south.  They say that in the "q&a" section of the book.  But I noticed that Offred talks about some type of military upheaval that has happened in latin america.  It's just a reference, where she says "after the xxxxx seized control of Columbia." towards the beginning when she sees they have oranges in the store.   Do we know much about the rest of the world in the book?  Was Gilead just part of a global upheaval?  Something similar to the arab spring but more widespread?  Or -- was that just a historical note of the time it was written because central american crises that started in the late 70s?    Looking for both a book expert and historian on this one, I guess.  Watching the show and seeing that Mexico is willing to trade handmaids, I wonder if I missed something in the book that the problems that led to the rise of Gilead were also on a global level.  

Edited by Shangrilala
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She says there has been an orange shortage since 'they lost Central America to the Liberteos.' Which I have always interpreted as Gilead having had successfully invaded Mexico and continued south at least as far as Guatemala and Belize if not all the way to Panama. Before a combined alliance of Central American and probably South American countries, calling themselves the Libertheos, fought back and liberated whichever countries and territories Gilead had claimed. And they are in no mood to trade oranges, or anything else, with their would be invaders.

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Question about Nick.

 

From the book, IIRC it's not clear if he is really an Eye or not. He might be in Mayday, he might be an Eye, he might be both. That's why we are never sure what happens to Offred in the book.

In the series, there was this exchange in the kitchen when Offred is supposed to be in her room at night:

OFFRED: Are you an Eye?

NICK: Yes..... Now go to bed, or I'll report you.

OFFRED smiles and goes to her room.

 

I've noticed other viewers in other threads saying "that proves he's an Eye, he confirmed it." But I thought he was joking with her, to get her to go to her room where she'd be safe.

So did I miss something in the book? Is Nick really an Eye?

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My 16 yr old son is reading the book right now. He hasn't watched the series yet. He is a very smart kid but I had to laugh when he said he "didn't get" what they did at the Ceremony. I had to be pretty explicit about the "layout" if you will, and then said the Commander "does his thing" in that configuration at which point he said, "well, that's no fun!" Lol. Yesterday he told me he thinks he knows how it's going to end. He thinks Original Recipe (my words, not his) Ofglen is going to bust Offred out of there and they'll go find Luke and the daughter. He said not to tell him if he's right or wrong, so I didn't. He is very smug, thinking that because he's read other dystopian novels, he knows how it will end. It will be interesting to see what he thinks about the real ending.

13 minutes ago, NoSpam said:

Question about Nick.

 

From the book, IIRC it's not clear if he is really an Eye or not. He might be in Mayday, he might be an Eye, he might be both. That's why we are never sure what happens to Offred in the book.

In the series, there was this exchange in the kitchen when Offred is supposed to be in her room at night:

OFFRED: Are you an Eye?

NICK: Yes..... Now go to bed, or I'll report you.

OFFRED smiles and goes to her room.

 

I've noticed other viewers in other threads saying "that proves he's an Eye, he confirmed it." But I thought he was joking with her, to get her to go to her room where she'd be safe.

So did I miss something in the book? Is Nick really an Eye?

You didn't miss anything in the book. We never really know. Personally I think he is both an Eye and Mayday. That's what bothers me about the show is that he talks a lot more to all of the characters when in the book he didn't bc they all knew talking to each other was dangerous. Same with the affair. In the show, he is instigating things (kissing in the hallways for example) when as far as I remember in the book, Offred always comes to him and he rarely talks even then.

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16 minutes ago, NoSpam said:

I've noticed other viewers in other threads saying "that proves he's an Eye, he confirmed it." But I thought he was joking with her, to get her to go to her room where she'd be safe.

So did I miss something in the book? Is Nick really an Eye?

His tone is ambiguous enough that it could be read either way.  He could be flippant, he could be serious.  I didn't take it as concrete confirmation either.

The book is similarly ambiguous.  I've always assumed he's both, mostly because we know Offred lived after that black van came to make the tapes that are the story and somebody had to be in a position to help her get away.  Book Moira is in no place to help anyone, Book Ofglen is dead, and it's never made clear what happened to Book Luke.  So for me that leaves Nick.  It's plausible to me if he's a double agent.

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7 minutes ago, Eureka said:

My 16 yr old son is reading the book right now. He hasn't watched the series yet. He is a very smart kid but I had to laugh when he said he "didn't get" what they did at the Ceremony. I had to be pretty explicit about the "layout" if you will, and then said the Commander "does his thing" in that configuration at which point he said, "well, that's no fun!" Lol. Yesterday he told me he thinks he knows how it's going to end. He thinks Original Recipe (my words, not his) Ofglen is going to bust Offred out of there and they'll go find Luke and the daughter. He said not to tell him if he's right or wrong, so I didn't. He is very smug, thinking that because he's read other dystopian novels, he knows how it will end. It will be interesting to see what he thinks about the real ending.

You didn't miss anything in the book. We never really know. Personally I think he is both an Eye and Mayday. That's what bothers me about the show is that he talks a lot more to all of the characters when in the book he didn't bc they all knew talking to each other was dangerous. Same with the affair. In the show, he is instigating things (kissing in the hallways for example) when as far as I remember in the book, Offred always comes to him and he rarely talks even then.

I love your son's enthusiasm for the book. "Original Recipe Ofglen" -- too funny. I hope he's not too upset with the real ending.

I *did* prefer the mysterious Nick of the book. IMO in the series he's too much of a "typical bro" flirting with his squeeze.

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1 minute ago, NoSpam said:

I love your son's enthusiasm for the book. "Original Recipe Ofglen" -- too funny. I hope he's not too upset with the real ending.

I *did* prefer the mysterious Nick of the book. IMO in the series he's too much of a "typical bro" flirting with his squeeze.

I think he's going to like how it's a historical document. He likes history a lot, so I think that framework will appeal to him.

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1 minute ago, Eureka said:

I think he's going to like how it's a historical document. He likes history a lot, so I think that framework will appeal to him.

IMO the most interesting part of the ending is how the misogyny is still apparent, post-Gillead. I wonder how they'll tackle that in the series.

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On 5/11/2017 at 5:39 PM, Eyes High said:

I guess I've just outed myself as being too cheap to shell out for the audiobook myself. Oh, well.

I thought Atwood promised questions and answers:

 

On 5/11/2017 at 5:41 PM, chocolatine said:

Yeah, I'm not spending that kind of money just to get the questions (I'm already splurging on Hulu just for this show). I have the Kindle version of the book, and Amazon pushes free updates to some Kindle books, so I'm hoping it will become available that way.

 

Fast forward to the end, about 5:50 for the 10 questions and answers in the new audio book.

ETA, I'm very glad I didn't pay $30 for that nonsense, there isn't anything very useful in the new addition of Q and A.  However Atwood addresses several things about writing the book at the very end that I found very interesting.

Edited by Umbelina
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On 5/23/2017 at 9:49 PM, Eureka said:

Didn't it say in the book that it turned out Janine's baby was a shredder? I don't remember if we knew the time lag on that realization. I think we just found out that "it wasn't good after all."

Yes, it did, but I don't think it was ever explained what was the matter with it. Whatever it was, it wasn't obvious at birth. I'm hoping that's one detail from the book they'll omit. Give poor Janine a break!

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48 minutes ago, GreekGeek said:

Yes, it did, but I don't think it was ever explained what was the matter with it. Whatever it was, it wasn't obvious at birth. I'm hoping that's one detail from the book they'll omit. Give poor Janine a break!

I know, right? IIRC, Book Janine didn't have her eye gouged out, so I hope the show at least lets her have this one "triumph". Even though she won't get to raise that baby either way.

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The two biggest mistakes the show has made so far, IMO, are:

  1. Making the world "color-blind" because the book specifically states the low birthrate a Caucasian problem, northern Caucasian to be specific. I'm assuming that is largely because of the sterility bio-weapon they developed.
  2. Not letting the so-called-rapist particulation thing play out as written.  He wasn't a rapist, and OfGlen killed him fast to avoid some pain.  That drives me nuts, and people in the episode thread are speculating on the rapes.  arrrgh
Edited by Umbelina
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14 hours ago, chocolatine said:

Book Janine didn't have her eye gouged out, so I hope the show at least lets her have this one "triumph".

I'm reluctant to play purist and wish that the show mirrors the book... I think they were trying to take the quick road to breaking Janine. In the book they emotionally destroyed her into an almost Stockholm Syndrome where she played an active part in diminishing herself. To be honest, I prefer her loosing her eye to the slow and brutal destruction of her mind. 

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I haven't read the book and just binged the series up to last night's episode.  Really enjoying the series, but I don't understand why the fertile women are not the ones living in luxury and waited on hand and foot. They are the precious commodity - not the infertile spoiled wives.  Why isn't everything the other way around?  It's common knowledge a scared stressed woman is less likely to conceive.  It just seems an odd way to go about sustaining a dying species.

Maybe it's explained in the book?  Maybe I'm missing something and should watch again?

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18 minutes ago, Pondlass1 said:

I don't understand why the fertile women are not the ones living in luxury and waited on hand and foot. They are the precious commodity

Answer is in your question. Commodity. Not autonomous, adult human beings. Objects. Things. And when there is a precious commodity it goes to those in power, those who acquire wealth and power and influence. 

But this isn't solely about fertility issues. It's about the transition of power from a free society to an oppressive one that finds it's authority in religious precepts. To that end women almost *have* to be oppressed. There isn't much room in a literalist interpretation of the bible for women to be free, autonomous individuals. 

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21 hours ago, Pondlass1 said:

I haven't read the book and just binged the series up to last night's episode.  Really enjoying the series, but I don't understand why the fertile women are not the ones living in luxury and waited on hand and foot. They are the precious commodity - not the infertile spoiled wives.  Why isn't everything the other way around?  It's common knowledge a scared stressed woman is less likely to conceive.  It just seems an odd way to go about sustaining a dying species.

Maybe it's explained in the book?  Maybe I'm missing something and should watch again?

The book is entirely written from June's POV except for the epilogue so a lot of details are deliberately obscured because we only know what she knows and she lives and has lived in a dishonest society that carefully distributes fake news. But the book subtly gives the impression that the fertility crisis was never as dire as the Commanders claim. Certainly there were lower birth rates and lower rates of healthy babies. But the human race wasn't at any risk of extinction that couldn't have been solved through use of science and financial incentives to fertile couples. In fact, the implication is that infertility in men was probably the bigger issue as an accidentally released biological weapon based on the mumps virus was a leading reason for the decrease in pregnancies. In the book Gilead is also a white supremacist society and it's implied that people from other ethnic backgrounds were not experiencing the same fertility issues, or at least not as badly.

The architects of Gilead used the fertility crisis as a way to engineer support and justify their actions. Women like Serena were a huge part of original PR war that garnered support and frightened objectors. But the Commanders of Gilead just wanted control and the Handmaid system was a tool of their oppression. It divided men and women into an 'us and them' and then it further split women into various 'us and thems.' The Handmaids were controlled and raped, the Martha's forced into utter subservience and pointlessly manual work due to the 'return to traditional methods' of the society. The Wives seemed to have control but in reality they were also experiencing a form of sexual abuse as they were forced into celibacy while being made a participant in monthly rape. Each group resented the other and it prevented them from being able to band together and defy the Commanders. If any babies resulted from the Handmaids that was a bonus to Gilead but it really wasn't their true purpose.

It's why I absolutely hate the turn the plot took in episode 6. The even worse fertility issues in Mexico completely take away from the subtle insidiousness of the book. If the human race really is on the verge of extinction then it actually justifies Gilead to some extent. It also means that their asinine methods of ignoring male infertility and medical science has proven more successful than whatever they are doing in Mexico which is just stupid.

Edited by AllyB
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