Modeling Notes, Chapter 13


Atwood’s Satire Targets

  1. “Rapid change into extraordinary brutality from an apparently civilized society”
  2. A superficial and misleading focus on “family values” in oppressive societies
  3. A focus on indoctrinating the young in repressive regimes
  4. To oppress groups, oppressive leaders first dehumanize them
  5. Books and literacy were seen as threats in oppressive societies
  6. Oppression of women — e.g., requirements to be fully covered, limitations on their education
  7. Objectification of women, women = their bodies, women’s bodies are their most important asset
  8. Government through fear — brutal punishments to intimidate the population
  9. Rigid gender roles — each gender serves a specific, prescribed function in society
  10. The evils of slavery

Page 69

“But maybe boredom is erotic, when women do it, for men” –> connects to the boredom that Betty Friedan writes about in the Feminine Mystique, “the problem that has no name” –> connects to #4 –> it dehumanizes women to take away their choice to work, the waiting with nothing to do is dehumanizing

Page 69

Offred compares herself to a prize pig –> she obviously feels dehumanized and objectified

Page 70

#5 –> “I read about that in Introduction to Psychology…” –> How must Offred feel having once been an educated, literate woman, now being treated as if she can’t handle reading and writing?

Page 70

#4 –> Offred practicing the “task of reproduction” on her mat is dehumanizing and objectifying

By the way, watch this clip of Les Sylphides, which Offred references as what “she hears” as she “lift[s], tilt[s], breathe[s]”

Page 70

“But now I think that the rest also was practice. They were giving us a chance to get used to blank time” –> again, “the problem that has no name”

Page 71

“She saw me too, but she turned away, she already knew what was safe” –> #4, Gilead dehumanizes women by isolating them –> it’s not “safe” to have friends

Page 71

#4 –> dehumanization –> they can only use the bathroom a certain number of times a day, p. 72, they are given vague punishments if they have an accident

`Page 72

#3 –> “For a moment, even though we knew what was being done to her, we despised her” –> we can tell the girls are being indoctrinated because Janine’s testimony makes them dislike her, “even though [they] knew what was being done to her”

Page 72

#6 –> “The mirrors have been replaced here too by oblongs of dull gray metal…” What effect does it have on a person’s identity to be forbidden to see what they look like? Especially when they are on display for others constantly?

Page 73

#3 –> “Each month I watch for blood, fearfully, for when it comes it means failure. I have failed once again to fulfill the expectations of others, which have become my own.”

Offred speaks in this passage of the careful attention she pays to her own body for signs of a baby; she is admitting to being at least somewhat brainwashed that she is not worthy unless she can reproduce

Page 74

“Every month there is a moon, gigantic, round, heavy, an omen. It transits, pauses, continues on and passes out of sight, and I see despair coming towards me like famine.”

#7 and #4 –> Offred is so used to being objectified; she objectifies her own body –> it’s apart from her; there is a divide between her internal world (her mind) and her body/physical experience, which she watches

Page 75

“Then the shots come behind us, not loud, not like firecrackers, but sharp and crisp like a dry branch snapping” –> #8; Offred does not know what has happened to her daughter and this uncertainty makes her cautious, makes her comply with Gilead’s rules, in case there’s a way of getting her daughter back; she has dreams about the various fates her daughter may have met; her daughter is always on her mind; her life is ruled by fear




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