A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Group Members:
Annie B H
Christina A
Lindsey D
Michelle C
Sarah G
Carly W
Nan B.*
DeeDee F.*

Discussion Time:
Thursday January 7th 5W 12:55-2:25

Outside Links:
Movie Clip -- sacrifices for the common good?
A Short Discussion -- is The Handmaid's Tale feminist literature?
Review -- a general overview of The Handmaid's Tale

Factual Questions:
- What ended up of Offred's mother?
- We know that the new government is Christan, but what part of Christianity are they exactly?
-What happened to Luke? To their daughter?
- Why is it that none of the women are allowed to talk to each other? Either the Marthas or the handmaids?
- Is there any significance to the Marthas being named what they are?

Interpretive Questions:
-Are women better off in this Republic of Gilead? Are men?
-What is the purpose of the "Of-" and commander's name of the Handmaid's?
-The Holocaust comes up multiple times in the book. Does it have any significance?
-In your opinion, what happened at the end of the book?
-Is there any difference in the way that we currently treat the elderly and the way they are treated in Gilead?
-Does the government truly believe that it is helping the people? Does it care?
-How should a government use censorship?
-Does the government even have the right to censorship?
-Does Moira stand as a symbol of freedom to Offred?
-What are Offred's true feelings towards Nick?

- Is Offred a passive women?
-Is there a connection between Offred's name and the color of her outfit?
- Is the commander just making the best of his surroundings?
- Is this what Serena Joy wanted when she was an anti-feminist?
- Is Moira better off as a prostitute or as a handmaid?
-What do you think is going through Offred's head when she is in the birthmobile?

Setting (Time + Place):
- It is briefly mentioned that this story may take place in Bangor, Maine. Would the story be different if it was somewhere else? How?
- What country of today is closest in regime to the Republic of Gilead?
- If the story took place today would anything have gone differently?

Themes, Motifs and Symbols:
-What is the significance of color? Why do the Marthas wear green?
-Why do the Handmaid's wear red? Do you think that all the birthmobile's are the same color with the job?
-Does "the wall" have a deeper meaning than death?
-What role does waiting have in the lives of the Citizens of Gilead? Is it symbolic?

Style of Writing:
-Is the novel helped or hindered by the flashbacks? Would it have been better to discuss the 'past', then go on to the 'present'?
-Are there any parts of the novel that you didn't understand? What would have made them clearer?
-Do you like that the story is written in first person? Does that add to the story?

Quotes to Note:
"'Better never means better for everyone', he says. 'It always means worse, for some'" (211, ch. 32) (the Commander)
"I would like to be without shame. I would like to be shameless. I would like to be ignorant. Then I would not know how ignorant I was." (263, ch. 14) (Offred narrates)

Discussion Facilitator: Michelle volunteers if others don't want to. I (Annie) Second Michelle as facilitator, if she wishes to accept.
I, Carly, second this idea.

Food/Drink Volunteers:

Annie is willing to bake chocolate chip cookies for the group. Other contributions would be helpful.
Christina can make brownies for the group.
Carly can make these super delicious cookies and possibly something other than a sweet for the group.