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Palimpsest: Novel vs. Show

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I'm assuming that the mother and Serena Joy's past are going to come in later. SJ's past in particular is just too good to leave out IMO. I'm curious about what will happen to Ofglen. She was punished for her relationship with another woman, not treason, and will probably be reassigned, so I assume she can still go on contributing to the resistance slow burn.

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On 4/26/2017 at 3:46 AM, Shaynaa said:

I'm just a bit stuck on whether one of Offred and Luke's problems was they are an interracial couple.

I don't recall whether they were in the book, but the fact that June's child has no genetic traits in appearance from her mother would likely be a plus in a women whose role was to give birth for another woman.

 

On 4/26/2017 at 11:41 AM, Corgi-ears said:

Those generic but oddly beautiful labels on the food almost made me get behind this new world order.

They are indicative of a total lack of choice, however.

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Didn't the book also imply that the women who were forced to be handmaids weren't just fertile but were also "sinners" who either had children out of wedlock like Janine, were second wives (i.e. "home wreckers") like June/Offred, or lesbians (i.e. "gender traitors") like Moira and Ofglen? And that women who were fertile but had intact first marriages were allowed to stay with their husbands and raise their children? Or am I mis-remembering?

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4 minutes ago, chocolatine said:

Didn't the book also imply that the women who were forced to be handmaids weren't just fertile but were also "sinners" who either had children out of wedlock like Janine, were second wives (i.e. "home wreckers") like June/Offred, or lesbians (i.e. "gender traitors") like Moira and Ofglen? And that women who were fertile but had intact first marriages were allowed to stay with their husbands and raise their children? Or am I mis-remembering?

No, I think you're correct. The Econowives were the lower-tier women whose families were allowed to remain intact.

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Yes it did.  There are also mentions of nuns who recanted their Catholicism and basically any woman who was of childbearing age who wasn't in what was deemed an acceptable first marriage.  The emphasis on having borne children before as proof of fertility is strictly a show thing, I believe.

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7 minutes ago, nodorothyparker said:

The emphasis on having borne children before as proof of fertility is strictly a show thing, I believe.

I don't think it's strictly a show thing - the book did mention during the birth scene that many of the handmaids have given birth before.

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It did but I remember thinking when I read it that if infertility was really as bad as it was being made out to be that the handmaid system of tossing any childbearing aged woman into a household was kind of a crap shoot.  Moira obviously hadn't had a child, nor had the aforementioned nun.  The horror show monthly gyno visits don't exactly scream high tech testing to determine much beyond whether a woman is already pregnant.  Janine's baby turns out to be a shredder and we learn that she's had at least one late-term miscarriage before but they keep assigning her, I guess on the theory that at least she can conceive and maybe one of them will take.  It just seems so haphazard in the book.  But maybe that's the point too, that any female body will do.

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4 hours ago, legxleg said:

I'm assuming that the mother and Serena Joy's past are going to come in later. 

Spoiler

Hulu has a preview of coming episodes that shows Serena Joy making a speech in support of Gilead at a dinner with the commanders and wives. So, the implication is that we'll discover she's someone of importance.

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12 hours ago, snowwhyte said:

That always annoys me too. You might be expecting a child but only one of you is pregnant.

One thing I do wonder about with the infertility is have the modern fertility treatments stopped working? I understand that the regime is fundamentalist Christian and they don't believe in medical intervention in procreation but the fertility crisis started before they gained power. Was it more that the women who got pregnant couldn't carry to term? 


Weird how "we're pregnant" is usually said by men who are supposedly more sensitive to women's issues, but it's actually taking something away from the woman who's doing all the work.  Much like the wives on this show with their theater of the absurd "births".  

But anyway, about infertility science, in the book  (and it's not really a spoiler, just background stuff...)

 

Spoiler

If I recall correctly, IVF doctors were pretty much on the same level as abortionists and were also similarly punished.  They were both seen as interfering with God.  


 

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11 hours ago, Margo Leadbetter said:

No, I think you're correct. The Econowives were the lower-tier women whose families were allowed to remain intact.

I really want to see the Econowives, the poorer but respectable wives of the not (comparatively) privileged men such as middle ranking soldiers, in their tricoloured dresses. I always felt that in a lot of ways being an Econowife was the best life for a woman in Gilead. She had the 'freedom' of running her own house and non of the humiliation of participating in the 'ceremonies.' If biologically possible she could bear and raise her own children. She would almost certainly be subject to less scrutiny than any of the other class of women because she wouldn't be forced to live with a host of other people who could report on her in the way that Wives, Marthas and Handmaids all have to live together.

But yet there would always be a sword hanging over her head, at least if she was fertile. As fertility rates continued to plummet there would always be a need for more Handmaids and more Wives and Commanders happy to take any existing child as their own. So any day a new law could be passed that she would retroactively fall foul of. Perhaps all marriages not officiated in the one right religion are declared unlawful. So all of a sudden she is an adultress and her children illegitimate and the law demands the children go to respectable families and she is packed off to the Rachel and Leah Centre. So really the only Econowives that have a chance at some sort of bearable life are the infertile. And the only fertile women who would be 'safe' would be those already wed to Commanders but even then they would probably be subject to such jealousy from the other Commanders and Wives that they would always be at risk of jealous enemies plotting their downfall.

In fact the whole society is so built around the value of having a child and the worthiness of those granted children to raise that even Commanders and Wives with a Handmaid conceived child would find themselves with a lot of jealous enemies among their peers. Those with children would have to band together and elevate themselves above the other Commanders or find themselves suddenly on the wrong side of a new law and their child passed along to the next worthy Commander. Ultimately a society like Gilead tackling a medical problem of that nature with religion, is doomed to destroy itself.

And that makes me wonder if the fertility issue is confined to the US. We can assume from the book that Gilead is a one off. Americans try to (and sometimes do) escape to Canada. The United States consists of two states, Alaska and presumably Hawaii. There is a suggestion that some people who escaped Gilead settled in Europe. Japanese tourists visit Gilead and are clearly shocked and fascinated by life there, suggesting that the rest of the world was carrying on as normal. So I wonder if the whole world was experiencing plummeting fertility rates and adapted with well thought out social policy and effective scientific treatment. Or if the infertility was localised. And if it was the latter it shows even more shortsightedness on the part of the architects of Gilead as they created a situation that incentivised their fertile families to flee to areas where fertility was still normal. (Was there also a suggestion in the book that the infertility had a racial element and people of European origin were disproportionately affected? Which was why the regime reacted so viciously to the 'Children of Ham' as they feared dying out and being replaced by a people they considered inferior?) 

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One big difference that jumped out at me is that Offred's husband was shot dead in the show, while Book Offred doesn't know what happened to her husband (and wonders if he betrayed her).

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I had a theory when reading the book that the infertility crisis was a lot of BS. I think they even said in the epilogue that although there was some STD issue, the drop in birth rates was disproportionate among whites people and at least partly contributed to by people simply wanting fewer children. I figured the "crisis" was just a certain kind of white people losing it over a demographic shift and enforcing eugenics style breeding (ew) to out reproduce other groups. Plus there's nothing like a crisis to convince people it's treasonous to ask questions. 

The show is clearly different because we see a legitimate concern over having healthy babies before, and the empty hospital room. I feel like the possibility of my pet theory has to go out the window when they get rid of the racism aspect of the dystopia.

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In the show, they seem to point out theres more to it than they've given birth before.  Rebel Ofglen (we need to find a way to differentiate the 2 I guess) mentioned that she had 2 good ovaries, and that's why she's a handmaid.

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36 minutes ago, Ripley68 said:

In the show, they seem to point out theres more to it than they've given birth before.  Rebel Ofglen (we need to find a way to differentiate the 2 I guess) mentioned that she had 2 good ovaries, and that's why she's a handmaid.

Ofglen also makes a comment in 1x01 and I think she said, "They weren't going to let any of us get away. Not if you had a red tag."

So maybe in the show universe the government forced women to submit to testing to determine their fertility...? 

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In the book it was a crime to suggest that the men were at all responsible for the birth defects and low fertility. Women (wives or handmaids) couldn't question a man's sperm count or viability. 

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The are also literally tagged. When Offred is in the bath you can see a red cuff on her left upper ear.

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1 hour ago, Ripley68 said:

The halting of the credit cards is why I really hate that everything now is going to cards and the phone.  Ever since I read the book in the 80's, I've worried about how easy it would be to pull the same stunt.  I know that Offred got banished to her room in the book, but I don't remember the interrogation.  I too was wondering why she didn't claim Aunt Lydia caused it.  Nick seems very blase about talking to Offred.

To answer the above question - I believe Gilead does keep couples together who are "married" in their eyes.  June and Luke were trying to escape Gilead - get Hannah and June to safety. 

Yeah, I don't remember if they've gone into this on the show or not but

Spoiler

June and Luke's marriage doesn't "count" to Gilead because Luke divorced his first wife. Gilead doesn't recognize divorce so the claim is that their marriage isn't legal.

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Yeah, I don't remember if they've gone into this on the show or not but

 

No they haven't yet. I was going to put that down myself but then remembered they haven't gotten that far yet into the story-line, though they could tweak it still who knows.

But that reasoning was one of the ways in the very beginning that the regime were able to grab up so many women to turn them into handmaids in the first place.

It was part of their system to subjugate as many "sinful" women as possible before they just started grabbing pretty much all kinds of women later on, probably when most of the ones who were snatched first refused their new role to a very bitter end and that's why they are now all kept under an intense suicide watch.

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5 hours ago, Ripley68 said:

To answer the above question - I believe Gilead does keep couples together who are "married" in their eyes.  June and Luke were trying to escape Gilead - get Hannah and June to safety. 

Not all fertile women are handmaids. Handmaids are criminals who are spared from execution/the colonies because they are fertile. But for the most part, they became criminals because they were fertile and the Commanders wanted them. So to begin with they banned things they hated like homosexuals and teachers and sentenced them to death/the colonies. Finding women like Ofglen (did Aunt Lydia call her Emily in the final scene) among the 'criminals' they are purging would have been a bonus. Then they decided they wanted more Handmaids and they'd choose a category of the population likely to have fertile women, like remarried divorcees or clergy or nuns of wrong religions, and introduce a law to make them criminals. Everyone who falls foul of that law gets rounded up and sent to the colonies unless they are a fertile woman, then they become a handmaid. As a bonus the Commanders also get custody of any children of the newly minted criminals and they can divvy up the young and cute ones to bring home to their barren wives. But while at this point, just a few years into Gilead's existence, there would be fertile couples still living legally as families they are living with a sword over their head. At any point the Commanders could decide they need more Handmaids and introduce a new law that they retroactively fall foul of.

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I've always been curious about the daughters in Gilead society, especially the ones taken from their families and redistributed to the Commanders. Is there a cutoff age for teenage daughters? Like, 12 & under get new parents, 13 and up go to the Red centers for training? Are they evaluated for fertility like the adult women at some point? After reading the book I pictured some of the aging commanders choosing amongst the daughters for more pliable wives (after ridding themselves of their first wives one way or another) and not being concerned about finding wives for their sons, much in the way some modern cults marry child brides & force sons out.  

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On 1/4/2017 at 2:32 AM, Ripley68 said:

The commander should be someone like....Liam Neeson would be good

I think that playing a man who repeatedly rapes a character once played by his tragically dead wife might be a bit too much for Neeson.

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On April 28, 2017 at 8:22 AM, Eyes High said:

One big difference that jumped out at me is that Offred's husband was shot dead in the show, while Book Offred doesn't know what happened to her husband (and wonders if he betrayed her).

Forgive me if I either missed this or it's addressed later ... I was thinking that too during the show but then I wondered ... well, we hear the shots, and in the book she does know he's shot but doesn't know if he died. Did I miss that we KNOW he died (I admit to having drifted off a few times while bingewatching the first three episodes and am going to re-watch each one when I'm more awake) or does she assume he died or are WE to presume he died ... but is it possible that he IS indeed still alive? 
 

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1 hour ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

Forgive me if I either missed this or it's addressed later ... I was thinking that too during the show but then I wondered ... well, we hear the shots, and in the book she does know he's shot but doesn't know if he died. Did I miss that we KNOW he died (I admit to having drifted off a few times while bingewatching the first three episodes and am going to re-watch each one when I'm more awake) or does she assume he died or are WE to presume he died ... but is it possible that he IS indeed still alive? 
 

We don't know for sure since we only heard the shots but didn't see him get shot.

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Thanks, Chocolatine ... I'm still trying to stay sort of unspoiled until I rewatch the first three episodes again more cogently and maybe even with a pad and paper with me since there are so many things I'm trying to make mental notes of but in full disclosure, since a stroke a few years ago my memory is a hazy and unreliable thing so I've gone from being considered among my near and dear as being the closest thing to a photographic "don't argue with her if she says she remembers something" memory person to someone's doddering old grandma (without the good matzoh ball soup recipe). 

The temptation is even there to reread the book yet ANOTHER time before taking another crack at the show ... just reading the comments in this thread I'm thinking things like "wow, I did NOT remember that from the book" or "I must have missed that" or "really? that happened?" and I swear I read it at LEAST four times, maybe more. 

One more Q ... assuming from both vague memory of the book and my take on the exterior shots that Gilead is New England, possibly/probably Cambridge, definitely northeast. They say the only "United States" that are left are Alaska and one other (presumably Hawaii, as someone else mentioned) ... so, what/where are the colonies? Is that everywhere else? Is it the south? Has that been addressed either in the show (while I was sleeping) or in the book (in a space in my memory no longer accessible?)

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8 hours ago, Anela said:

Did she use her real name, because she was no longer with her rapist? I hadn't realized that they were taking the names of the men involved, like Of Fred, and Of Glen, until someone mentioned it here. Again, leaving them solely as property to those men, not even leaving them the names their own mothers gave them. Ugh! 

When I read the book, the biggest shock to me, out of everything was the fact that they didn't even keep their names! They were nothing but an extension of a man, not even a man they chose, but a man they were assigned to. Knocked me flat on on my ass. The sheer inhumanity of not even having your own first name was mind boggling to me.

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2 hours ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

The temptation is even there to reread the book yet ANOTHER time before taking another crack at the show ... just reading the comments in this thread I'm thinking things like "wow, I did NOT remember that from the book" or "I must have missed that" or "really? that happened?" and I swear I read it at LEAST four times, maybe more.

I don't think it would hurt to read the book. The show adds a lot of (surprising & shocking) elements that weren't in the book, so I don't think reading the book would "spoil" the show for you, as it were.

I was at my weekly Pilates session on Friday, and my trainer hasn't read the book but is completely riveted by the show. He asked me if he should read the book now or wait until the show is over, because he's usually disappointed by shows/movies based on books he's read, but I told him if the first three episodes are any indication, this show would not let him down.

2 hours ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

One more Q ... assuming from both vague memory of the book and my take on the exterior shots that Gilead is New England, possibly/probably Cambridge, definitely northeast. They say the only "United States" that are left are Alaska and one other (presumably Hawaii, as someone else mentioned) ... so, what/where are the colonies? Is that everywhere else? Is it the south? Has that been addressed either in the show (while I was sleeping) or in the book (in a space in my memory no longer accessible?)

I think Gilead is now all of the continental US, but the book/show do take place in Cambridge. The exact location of the Colonies hasn't been addresses on the show, and IIRC, not in the book either. There must have been nuclear disasters of some kind that led to the decline in fertility and healthy births, and I'm assuming that the Colonies are the locations of those nuclear reactors that need "cleaning up" and they would still be highly toxic/radioactive years after the disasters.

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1 hour ago, Arynm said:

When I read the book, the biggest shock to me, out of everything was the fact that they didn't even keep their names! They were nothing but an extension of a man, not even a man they chose, but a man they were assigned to. Knocked me flat on on my ass. The sheer inhumanity of not even having your own first name was mind boggling to me.

Agreed. I thought that point was made especially cruelly when Offred asked the "new" Ofglen about the "old" Ofglen, and the new one pretended like the old one never existed.

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There is at least one reference in the book to 'losing' Central America to the Libertheos (contributing to the rarity of oranges). So presumably Gilead at a minimum successfully invaded Mexico/Guatemala/Belize, possibly all the way to Panama, before being forced back to the former US borders. Presumably, at the very least, the whole of South America (the Libertheos?) would have risen up to prevent the spread of Gilead if it became obvious they were intent on indefinite expansion.  Yet I don't recall any suggestion of Gilead trying to invade Canada (something that would be relatively easy compared to taking over 48 states, as over 90% of the Canadian population lives within 100 miles of the US border) that suggests there is a functioning United Nations in this universe. The UN has possibly taken a stance of not interfering in what the US/Gilead does within it's own borders but they won't tolerate the invasion of sovereign nations. I'd also imagine that many of America's tech leaders got the hell out of dodge before it was too late (at least for people with access to their own jets) and that's the real power. Even a back to basics world like Gilead still has computers controlling it's nukes and much of it's weaponry. In my head Gilead was able to get away with invading Central America while the best tech geniuses in the world sat in Anchorage with the remaining American government and generals and quietly disabled all of Gilead's networked military assets. Once Gilead was practically neutered, the Libertheos, with international backing, liberated any Central American territory Gilead had taken and the UN made it clear that the Canadian border was not to be breached.

Gilead isn't any kind of super power and the presence in the book of a Japanese trade delegation made up in part of women who walk the streets of Gilead in "western" fashions, also tells us that Gilead is too dependant on foreign trade to try impose it's clothing rules on visiting women, in the way that Iran/Saudi Arabia does. Gilead probably exists under the threat of absolute trade sanctions if it moves beyond it's borders. The remnants of the US are also probably lobbying hard for the UN to sanction Gilead. Many A-list celebrities would also have escaped (again because of the personal jets) and would be using all their brand recognition to appeal to the rest of the world. If the world of the series is in any way contemporaneous think of all the countries with female leaders or women in positions of power. In present day Europe 11 countries/territories have female heads of government, a further 9 have female deputy heads. Various African, Asian and South American countries are led by a woman. China's second vice premier is a woman. Can you just imagine how emphatically all of those women would be working to destroy Gilead in any way they can. Gilead isn't like Saudi Arabia or Iran, it doesn't supply the bulk of the world's oil so isn't above sanction. The fall of what was in many ways the leading western society for close to a century wouldn't be so swiftly dismissed as 'other.'

The only reason the rest of the world are allowing Gilead to exist at all is because they must also be dealing with their own fertility and environmental crises. Smart politicians are probably able to use Gilead as a cautionary tale for unwoke societies and it's helping other countries to come up with realistic workable solutions to their problems. They may not be in a position to use their united military to free Gilead but they'll let them destroy themselves and employ any little micro-aggressions they can to hurry up their decline. Thinking about it, those Japanese trade delegates gabbling about, taking photos, being the stereotype of over-excited tourists were probably Naicho agents. (Yes I know I've now probably given this all more thought than even Atwood did, but I'm sick in bed and have watched the first 3 episodes twice and the 90s movie since Thursday and when I was too unwell to open my eyes last night, I listened to the whole audiobook in practically one go while shaking with fever. My imagination is in overdrive!)

Edited by AllyB
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9 hours ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

Thanks, Chocolatine ... I'm still trying to stay sort of unspoiled until I rewatch the first three episodes again more cogently and maybe even with a pad and paper with me since there are so many things I'm trying to make mental notes of but in full disclosure, since a stroke a few years ago my memory is a hazy and unreliable thing so I've gone from being considered among my near and dear as being the closest thing to a photographic "don't argue with her if she says she remembers something" memory person to someone's doddering old grandma (without the good matzoh ball soup recipe). 

The temptation is even there to reread the book yet ANOTHER time before taking another crack at the show ... just reading the comments in this thread I'm thinking things like "wow, I did NOT remember that from the book" or "I must have missed that" or "really? that happened?" and I swear I read it at LEAST four times, maybe more. 

One more Q ... assuming from both vague memory of the book and my take on the exterior shots that Gilead is New England, possibly/probably Cambridge, definitely northeast. They say the only "United States" that are left are Alaska and one other (presumably Hawaii, as someone else mentioned) ... so, what/where are the colonies? Is that everywhere else? Is it the south? Has that been addressed either in the show (while I was sleeping) or in the book (in a space in my memory no longer accessible?)

Where they are is definitely Cambridge area in the show. In a flashback she said the Davis [subway] stop is closed so Moira would have to go to Alewife. When I was in grad school years ago, I used to live a few blocks away from the Davis stop in Somerville, MA and Alewife is in Cambridge. It's implied in the book but never specifically identified that the university, wall, library are Harvard and that is consistent with how she describes there had been a train station right near those things [Harvard Square]. In the show she said they tried to escape through Maine which makes sense with all these landmarks. Then in the epilogue we learn the tapes were found near Bangor, Maine which l loved when I read it, because that is my hometown!

I always wondered about the Colonies too. When I read as a teenager, I wondered if she meant space or moon colonies. But I don't think it's ever been specified. I just reread the book last week before the episodes dropped and don't remember any more info about the Colonies.

Edited by Eureka
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4 minutes ago, Eureka said:

Where they are is definitely Cambridge area in the show. In a flashback she said the Davis [subway] stop is closed so Moira would have to go to Alewife. When I was in grad school years ago, I used to live a few blocks away from the Davis stop in Somerville, MA and Alewife is in Cambridge. It's implied in the book but never specifically identified that the university, wall, library are Harvard and that is consistent with how she describes there had been a train station right near those things [Harvard Square]. In the show she said they tried to escape through Maine which makes sense with all these landmarks. I always wondered about the Colonies too. When I read as a teenager, I wondered if she meant space or moon colonies. But I don't think it's ever been specified. I just reread the book last week before the episodes dropped and don't remember any more info about the Colonies.

Yes. Margaret Atwood knows Cambridge, Massachusetts well, having done graduate studies at Harvard. A fun Easter egg for the show is that many of the Gilead exteriors--meant to be doubling for Cambridge, Massachusetts--are filmed in Cambridge, Ontario. Ha!

I too was wondering where the Colonies are supposed to be. I suppose they are meant to be the sites of Chernobyl-type disasters. It seems as if the Colonies should form part of the continental US, since Gilead has the power to send and keep people there, but it's a bit strange, since the Children of Ham are sent to Nebraska, which is just called Nebraska.

I assumed the setting of The Handmaid's Tale, which was published in 1985, was influenced by then-recent disasters: the Love Canal chemical disaster discovered in the 1970s (which caused birth defects), the Three Mile Island accident (1979), etc. The novel also has a reference to Agent Orange, the use of which resulted in miscarriages of or birth defects in the children of those who had been exposed to it, which I'm guessing influenced Atwood's creation of a setting where miscarriages and birth defects are on the rise.

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Thank you ALL for these thoughts and observations ... I pulled my tattered dogeared copy of the book off the shelf and am going to basically "binge-re-re-re-read" it between tutu-making and necklace making (LOL, it's AVON39 week, I must adorn and bedeck myself in tributes) and then re-tackle watching the show while I can really concentrate (and recover). 

I'm still not sure if I mis-read the article that Elisabeth Moss signed a 7-8 year contract for this ... is that even possible? But, as my husband mentioned, they've managed to extend Leftovers (we love Tom Perrotta) way past the book's alleged end so I guess it could be done ... especially with plenty of flashbacks and extended stories about characters other than Offred. 

Edited by PamelaMaeSnap
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Atwood has hinted very recently that she will be releasing another book set in this universe, possibly about the Mayday resistance. She added a coda to the end of the audiobook this month. Now instead of ending on Professor Pieixoto asking "Are there any questions?" there are 10 questions and answers and for two of the answers Pieixoto says that he will be releasing something soon, once he authenticates the newly found documents. If Atwood is writing a book that expands this universe, I'd say it's likely then that she'll be involved in expanding the story if it is renewed for further series.

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2 hours ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

Thank you ALL for these thoughts and observations ... I pulled my tattered dogeared copy of the book off the shelf and am going to basically "binge-re-re-re-read" it between tutu-making and necklace making (LOL, it's AVON39 week, I must adorn and bedeck myself in tributes) and then re-tackle watching the show while I can really concentrate (and recover). 

I'm still not sure if I mis-read the article that Elisabeth Moss signed a 7-8 year contract for this ... is that even possible? But, as my husband mentioned, they've managed to extend Leftovers (we love Tom Perrotta) way past the book's alleged end so I guess it could be done ... especially with plenty of flashbacks and extended stories about characters other than Offred. 

The showrunner said he had ideas about a new season that would be going into "uncharted territory." If Moss is involved, that could mean the show will be covering Offred's story after (presumably) escaping, since we know nothing about her fate other than her recording some tapes found at a waystation in Maine. I don't know how you get eight seasons out of that, though.

Edited by Eyes High
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I've seen articles where the showrunners seem to be pretty confident they could pull off a second season.  I have no idea on the specifics of that given how much material of the original book they've burned through in just three episodes.

Seven-year contracts seem to be pretty standard across the industry unless it's for a very specific limited run type situation that everybody's aware of going in like a minseries or anthology.  It doesn't guarantee that a show would run seven seasons or that if it did that the character would survive all seven seasons, rather than the actor is committing to the project for that long should it be successful.  Most shows don't run longer than that anyway and the ones that do are generally so successful that a popular actor is going to negotiate for a much more lucrative deal by the time that seven years is up.

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I'm not sure I want to watch future seasons that is not based on a book. One of the things that irritates me in the show is they have taken away a lot of the ambiguity that was in the book....naming people, saying Luke was killed, giving OfGlen a backstory....

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25 minutes ago, Eureka said:

I'm not sure I want to watch future seasons that is not based on a book. One of the things that irritates me in the show is they have taken away a lot of the ambiguity that was in the book....naming people, saying Luke was killed, giving OfGlen a backstory....

Margaret Atwood's involved in the show and is said to be working on another book set in the same universe (see AllyB's post). Maybe she'll sketch out some ideas for them...?

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I think a lot depends on where this season ends.  Will we see her being taken by the black van and escape on the Underground Femaleroad (which always sounds clunky to me) that mostly coincides with the book or will we get some more ambiguous ending that sets up a second season?

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I liked the addition of Ofglen's backstory and I think having Serena Joy being of childbearing/close to Offred's age (but unable to have children) actually adds a deeper dimension! I don't know how old she was meant to be in the book but for some reason I always pictured her as 50ish.

I know this sounds mean, but I think the actor who plays Nick (the driver) should have been more handsome and look younger. Maybe it's because of the Joseph Finnes casting (he's in his 40s, very handsome) but I always pictured Nick as younger than Offred and better looking than the Commander and/or most of the men around.

Overall, though, this show is top notch. It's rare I re-watch a television show ("Mad Men" being a rare exception--call out to Elisabeth Moss) but I can tell I will be with this.

In terms of the universe, geo-politics, and show vs. novel: I always assumed while the Republic of Gilead was indeed the continental US theoretically, but there were geographic sections where the control was less stable and there was constant insurrection and fighting. The Republic of Gilead may claim it as their territory--but the degree to which they have integrated the full, oppressive society varies.  The show strongly implies Florida and Chicago are two of those places. The US government-in-exile being in Anchorage was a nice touch for me too.

Am I remembering this right or was it from another dystopian novel I read? It wasn't a major plot point but just a background mention (on a news broadcast a character overhears or something?) that "Olympia has voted for Canadian annexation..." (Olympia being the capitol of Washington State).

Edited by JasonCC · Reason: clarity and typos
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This adaptation in some ways reminds me of The Hunger Games, book vs movies, and how, when done correctly, instead of "ruining" a book, the film version can expand, without ruining that world.  Two main parallels are, of course, that both authors are involved and that first-person stories can't possibly reveal the other characters in depth.  In a way, much like adding more of President Snow and the game control room could reveal to us something Katniss couldn't possibly know, being able to actually see OfGlen's experiences (or the other characters) will not replace the outstanding book, but add, in the best possible way, MORE.

It doesn't become a choice about which is better, book or show, because both have their own excellence.  Both use something the other couldn't.

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13 hours ago, AllyB said:

Atwood has hinted very recently that she will be releasing another book set in this universe, possibly about the Mayday resistance. She added a coda to the end of the audiobook this month. Now instead of ending on Professor Pieixoto asking "Are there any questions?" there are 10 questions and answers and for two of the answers Pieixoto says that he will be releasing something soon, once he authenticates the newly found documents. If Atwood is writing a book that expands this universe, I'd say it's likely then that she'll be involved in expanding the story if it is renewed for further series.

A tangent, but I really enjoy that expanded universe extra, even as I utterly hate the smug, smarmy jackwagon who is still practicing erasure by focusing so much on the commander -- I have been on so many academic panels and at conferences with That Guy. I read HmT rarely, no more than once in five years; it's my personal emotional kryptonite, but I get something different out of each reading and interpretation. The Sex, Crime and Audiotape podcast did a radio drama version a few weeks ago, and I realized that I hated Luke for being a normal guy with unconscious dismissiveness and insensitivity. I'd never hated him before. This time  it's with the academics.

 

On the younger appearance of the commander and Serena: in the mid 80s, women of 45 or 50 usually looked that age --Dame Maggie is glorious in all things, but she was 40 in A Room With a View, and looked forty with a few wrinkles and bags and very thin looking skin. Same with Geraldine Page, at 50, in Trip to Bountiful. They're both beauties, but they both looked middle-aged. Compare to Nicole Kidman, age 50; Reese Witherspoon, 41, and Laura Dean, age 48, in Big Little Lies. In 30 years, our technological ability to erase or prevent the effects of time on women's bodies has progressed *fast*. Especially for someone formerly in a media career - like Serena Joy - with access to help and a reward system that insists she be perfect, she would cling to the illusion of youth and beauty. Men do it too, and men look younger for a lot longer these days. Serena could be late 40s, feeling she's out of biological time, even while not looking like it. And Serena did get shot - her assistant got killed, but Serena took a bullet; that injury maybe explains her limp.

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I know they didn't want to include the white supremacy angle from the book, but it is kind of hard to believe that a zealous, sexist, homophobic patriarchal society like this wouldn't also be racist.

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6 hours ago, ruby24 said:

I know they didn't want to include the white supremacy angle from the book, but it is kind of hard to believe that a zealous, sexist, homophobic patriarchal society like this wouldn't also be racist.

I do hope they offer some in-universe explanation for this, because I don't think simply pretending racism doesn't exist (in a world that by design closely mirrors our own) is the way to go. I appreciate that they wanted a more diverse cast, but they should make an attempt to incorporate that decision into the mythology of the show.

Side note: One of my posts appears to have mysteriously disappeared from this thread. Anyone else have this issue?

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11 hours ago, SeanC said:

Seeing as the fertility crisis precedes (and, presumably, gave rise to) this regime, I don't think it's a matter of the Commanders disapproving of IVF.  If IVF had been viable, the fertility crisis would have been dealt with that way under the old government.

I'm not so sure about that, though. It was to the advantage of the pro-Gilead cabal in the old government that there be no solution but their fascist quasi-religious solution. You know, that "I alone can fix it" propaganda that we're seeing now. Honestly, I read the book when it first came out, and I don't remember if Atwood went into the politics that led to the civil war, so what I'm saying is strictly conjecture.

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On 4/28/2017 at 8:03 AM, AllyB said:

I really want to see the Econowives, the poorer but respectable wives of the not (comparatively) privileged men such as middle ranking soldiers, in their tricoloured dresses. I always felt that in a lot of ways being an Econowife was the best life for a woman in Gilead. She had the 'freedom' of running her own house and non of the humiliation of participating in the 'ceremonies.' If biologically possible she could bear and raise her own children. She would almost certainly be subject to less scrutiny than any of the other class of women because she wouldn't be forced to live with a host of other people who could report on her in the way that Wives, Marthas and Handmaids all have to live together.

I was confused by the book in regards to this.  Was Offred married or living common law? At first I thought common law which would have made sense for her to make a run for it.  But if she and her husband were legally married, they could have just just become one of these Econofamilies and lived under the wire until a better plan to make a run for it appeared or use one of the female underground railroads.

I thought the whole plan for them leaving Gilead was rushed and not thought out. 

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The book says the new regime nullified all second marriages, which we're told is how they ensnared Offred as Luke was still married to someone else when they got involved and she later became his second wife.  It apparently didn't matter who the offending party actually was as the women in those marriages were targeted to become handmaids.  The academic in the epilogue I believe mentions the regime would later go on to target all marriages that didn't occur within the state church, which would free up another round of women.

I've always gotten the sense that Luke and June waited until it was waaay too late to try to leave and thus didn't have a chance to come up with a better plan.

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2 minutes ago, greekmom said:

I was confused by the book in regards to this.  Was Offred married or living common law? At first I thought common law which would have made sense for her to make a run for it.  But if she and her husband were legally married, they could have just just become one of these Econofamilies and lived under the wire until a better plan to make a run for it appeared or use one of the female underground railroads.

I thought the whole plan for them leaving Gilead was rushed and not thought out. 

They were married, but Luke was previously married and divorced and they started their relationship before his divorce was final. There's something in some extremist Christian groups called covenant marriage, which they try to push into law from time to time. The idea of covenant marriage is to make divorce almost impossible (witnessed abuse, proved abandonment, proved adultery) and to give full legal marriage status only to anyone's first marriage. So far, covenant marriage bills have all failed, but the fact that they get taken seriously enough to make it into and out of committee is disquieting. 

Thus the mechanism for Gilead to create the Handmaids' subclass -- declare all subsequent marriages null, thus the partners are "living in sin". Single mothers? Pull them, too. Eventually it comes down to "didn't get married in the right church", or "didn't look both ways before crossing the street."

Spoiler

This is speculation, but within the series, it could be that Luke and June's relationship is illegal because it's considered miscegenation. Yes, there are Handmaids of color, and they're doing what appears to be color blind casting, but that doesn't mean this Gilead is completely fine with mixing races. There are some really weird gradations within levels of racism -- separate but equal being but one. 

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18 hours ago, snowwhyte said:

How can the rapist be at fault when the women are all sluts who lead men on?

The handmaids are truly pissed (well, told to be pissed) because the rapist attacked a woman who was pregnant and killed the baby. I think that's what set them off more than the rape. But in the book (spoiler):

Spoiler

The gang-assault  by handmaids is a way of killing political enemies of Gilead while also serving as a  venting mechanism for the handmaids so they will get it out of their system and fall back in line.

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8 hours ago, ruby24 said:

I know they didn't want to include the white supremacy angle from the book, but it is kind of hard to believe that a zealous, sexist, homophobic patriarchal society like this wouldn't also be racist.

It's an interesting question. I, too, feel that a White Supremacy angle would fit right in with the other ideals of Gilead, but I also think that a diverse cast makes sense. As Gilead is an overwhelmingly-religious regime, and while racism and religion go hand-in-hand, historically racism in Christianity looks like assimilation, rather than segregation (which is more political), with Missionaries out to "civilize the heathens" and such, or rounding up First Nations children for residential schools to "take the Indian out of the child." The emphasis on "saving" people by bringing them into the fold (against their will) and completely obliterating their ties to their former lives and cultures, then telling them they should be grateful for the privilege, seems quite in line with what Gilead is doing. 

The White Supremecist movement, like Nazism and racial segregation, uses religion or tends to be religious, but their movement isn't DRIVEN by religion the same way. It's mostly powered by a deep distrust or dislike of "others" that is separate from religious doctrine.

In other words, you don't have to be religious to be a racist, but you DO have to be religious to be a Missionary. Assimilation is just as racist as segregation, and it has a firmer footing in religion, so I can see why they may have taken this tack.

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It's been a long time since I read the book--once a hand maid has served her purpose, is she transferred to another home, the colonies, or is there some shitty reward for successfully being livestock?

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