Handmaids Tale By Atwood
The creation of Offred, the passive narrator of Margaret Atwoodís The

Handmaidís Tale, was intentional. The personality of the narrator in this
novel is almost as important as the task bestowed upon her. Atwood chooses an
average women, appreciative of past times, who lacks imagination and fervor, to
contrast the typical feminist, represented in this novel by her mother and her
best friend, Moira. Atwood is writing for a specific audience, though through
careful examination, it can be determined that the intended audience is actually
the mass population. Although particular groups may find The Handmaidís Tale
more enjoyable than others, the purpose of the novel is to enlighten the general
population, as opposed to being a source of entertainment. A specific group that
may favor this novel is the women activists of the 1960\'s and 1970\'s. This
group, in which Offredís mother would be a member, is sensitive to the
censorship that women once faced and would show interest to the "possible
future" that could result. Offred is symbolic of "every woman". She was
conventional in prior times, married with one daughter, a husband and a career.

She is ambivalent to many things that may seem horrific to the reader. On page

93, Offred is witness to Janineís confession of being raped. She doesnít
comment on how the blame is placed on Janine. Is this because Offred has begun
to accept the words of Aunt Lydia, or more likely, is she silent to create
emphasis on the horrific deed? The answer is easily satisfied when the reader
finishes the novel. Offred must realize the injustices if she feels compelled to
reveal her story on the tapes. She must grasp the importance of conveying the
atrocities that were executed during the Gileadian area. Offred is
representative of an average women also because she has experienced no great
traumas. She isnít just ambivalent because of her tendencies but because she
has been abruptly interjected into a new society. She is stunned and almost
numb. She barely shows signs of life. She doesnít think there is any use to
have a sense of hope. She thinks of the woman in "her" room before her. Her
strong sense of life did nothing to help her earn her freedom. She received
nothing from her quiet rebellions. Offred is also obviously the perfect narrator
because she is a handmaiden. In this new system, almost a caste system, the role
of being a handmaiden is not only of great importance, but is also considerably
better than other positions, such as an "unwoman", who cleans toxic waste in
the Colonies. Because Offred is characterized as passive, and mostly compliant,
she is not as much in danger as other characters. Moira, her friend from college
and the previous life, is dynamic and full of life. She doesnít want to be
held back, and her resistence causes her both trouble and distress. Janine,
another character, is a "brown-noser" who uses flattery and praise to
achieve a virtually impossible level of hierarchy with the Aunts among her
peers. She has to sacrifice self-worth, though, and her admittance of fault in
being raped is disgusting. The tense that Atwood uses is relative to the
narrator also. The shifts from present to past are frequent. When an author
causes the narrator to use past tense, the reader can generally conclude that
the narrator knows the end of the story. This builds a sense of suspense. Using
present tense allows images in the story to be more solid and realistic,
compared to past life. Not all shifts in tense are used for the same reason.

When Offred is "speaking" of Luke, she canít decide if she is in love with
him, or if she was in love with him. Offred gradually reveals the story, which
we are to eventually discover is on tape. Atwood elects to use leisurely
disclosure in order to make the conclusion of the story more believable. The

"Historical Notes" chapter causes the reader to re-examine the book, both
mentally and manually. As the reader recalls the jumble of thoughts, the
bouncing back and forth between the present and the past, and the narratorís
decisions to withhold certain details, they understand the possibility, though
unlikeliness, that this could actually happen. Contrasts are important aspects
in the narration of this novel. The obvious contrasts are between other
characters, such as between Offred and Moira. There also are the images of past
life that Offred creates. These contrast to the new institution of Gilead.

Examples of the contrast are the womenís rights rallies. Offred