Notes, Chapter 16-18


After you read chapters 16-18 of The Handmaid’s Tale:

  • Find 5-10 quotes (as many quotes as you can write in 20 minutes) that relate to ONE of the following — either satire targets, or motifs. Be prepared to analyze the quotes that you picked during discussion.

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


  1. Color and light
  2. Human body and mutilation
  3. Animals and nature
  4. Parings and opposites
  5. Mirrors

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