The Handmaid's Tale

Tue 30 April 2019 by Thejaswi Puthraya

"The Handmaid's Tale" is a dystopian novel along the lines of "1984" and "A Brave New World" with the distinction that it's narrated through the voice of a woman (one largely absent in the other two books). Offred (a name assigned) is a handmaid to a wife and her primary task is to procreate with the Commander - master of the house. The world is at war not between nation states but between religious sects and handmaidens are forced into this practise to arrest the low birth rates. She describes the society and how it's layered while comparing it with the one in the not so long past. In that past, she was married and had a daughter. She longs for her family and accepts this position because her other option was to be banished to the Colonies - polluted wastelands.

Her Commander is sterile and is unable to get her pregnant and she is racing against time as she could be labelled barren and shipped off to the Colonies. The wife then decides to setup a forbidden sexual liaison with Nick, a valet to the Commander so that she can have a baby and bask in the jealousy of the other wives. This relationship is discovered and the police come for Offred and the ending is open to our imagination.

The book riles up it's readers by describing a highly conservative society where all personal liberties are forbidden and how women bear most of it's brunt.