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The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 6

Chapter Assignments

Catherine Waller

on 20 November 2012

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Transcript of The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 6

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 6 Control Through Fear Punishment Narrative Technique Language Character Language Narrative Technique Summary “I think of her as a woman for whom every act is done for show, is acting rather than a real act. She does such things to look good, I think. She’s out to make the best of it. But that is what I must look like to her, as well.” 41 “Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.” 43 “Beside the main gateway there are six more bodies hanging, by the necks, their hands tied in front of them, their heads in white bags tipped sideways onto their shoulders.” 41 •Offred and Ofglen are on a walk
•They go past the church
•They go to see the Wall, and see the hanging bodies
•Offred comments on the mouths
the bodies Thematic Statement In the society of Gilead, even though the government controls its population by imposing cruel consequences for disobedience, many still find a way to develop individuality through their minds. Rebellion “We have learned to see the world in gasps” 40 The pronoun "we" illustrates how the society makes people conform.

Contrary to first person, third person narrative can shed light on the collective experience of Gilead, not just one interpretation of it. The society is set up in a way that fear controls how people behave, and therefore it is hard to differentiate between people who are for the regime, and those who are against it.
The government controls the population through fear; because people can report each other if they seem suspicious. Narrative Technique Character Language “We’re supposed to look: this is what they are for, hanging on the wall. Sometimes they’ll be there for days, until there’s a new batch, so as many people as possible will have the chance to see them.” 42 The pronoun "we" represents the citizens of Gilead, as they are also referred to as "many people". This explains how punishment is an effective deterrent for breaking laws, as the consequences are well know by all, and are hung up for people to look at and reflect. “The hooks look like appliances for the armless. Or steel question marks, upside-down and sideways.” 42 As a way of rebelling, Offred uses her imagination to create connections between the things she sees, and perhaps the past, or aspects of the past that no longer exist, such as appliances for the armless, or upside down and sideways question marks. “When we think of the past, it’s the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.” 40 The use of flashbacks as a part of the narrative are another way in which Offred can escape from the horrible reality of Gileadean society, by daydreaming about the past.

The phrase "we want to believe" illustrates how the people of Gilead are in desperate need of escape from reality, which they achieve through their minds. The short sentence “it will become ordinary” right after “it will” emphasizes government control, as it brainwashes people.

Also, the order of words is changed in the sentence “Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to.” Rather than ‘what you are used to is ordinary, said Aunt Lydia’, which further emphasizes that the amount of government control will cease to shock people. The thorough description of the hanging bodies illustrates the horrible consequences someone would face if they chose to disobey the rules. Hence, the imagery of the "white bags tipped sideways" and their "hands tied in front of them" makes it seem as if punishment is unavoidable if one were to break the rules and it reinforces the atmosphere of fear. “What we are supposed to feel towards these bodies is hatred and scorn. This isn’t what I feel. These bodies hanging on the wall are time travellers, anachronisms. They’ve come from the past. What I feel towards them is blankness. What I feel is that I must not feel. What I feel is partly relief, because none of these men are Luke.” This paragraph talks about bodies and unknown individuals hanged, but at the end mentions Luke, a named individual. "Luke" helps make a connection between the unknown people hanging from the wall, and people who are known, and creates an emotional connection to the hanging bodies.
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