Written by: Katherine Jimenez
I first learned about writer Margaret Atwood from my friend Daniel who had never picked up a book in his life and, even then, he didn’t know her for her writing either. However, if you don’t know who Atwood is at this point in your existence, I suggest you pick up Cat’s Eye to start.
Daniel found out about Atwood after watching The Handmaid’s Tale in 2017, becoming an avid fan of the show ever since then. The show is based off of Atwood’s novel of the same name. It follows the handmaid Offred living in a totalitarian and theocratic state known as “The Republic of Gilead,” formerly the United States. To sum it up, this dystopian society takes kidnapped women and forces them to function as concubines for “commanders,” the politicians who made Gilead a reality. There are “underground railroads” run by rebel groups that help many of the handmaids escape to Canada as well as black markets that function as prostitution rings and places of gathering for commanders. But why does any of this matter?
In a time when women’s bodily rights are being taken away, a dystopian society like The Handmaid’s Tale is not that far-fetched. In fact, in reading both the novel and watching the series, I realized that Atwood created a world that is terrifyingly realistic. She predicted many events without them having happened yet in 1985, the year the novel was first published. And although the show fictionalized way beyond the novel’s end, I still think the book should be a required reading in every single school out there. It reminds us of just how fragile our government is and how in danger women are simply for their sex.
The Handmaid’s Tale, although not my favorite of Atwood’s novels (third to Cat’s Eye and The Robber Bride), is a must read that speaks to the state of our government today.