After a trip to a local brothel leaves Offred more resentful towards the Commander than ever, it seems like the careful world she has constructed for herself to recede into is coming apart. Desperate for a child, Serena Joy has paired Offred with the families driver, Nick, and feelings quickly develop between the two. But with the disappearance of her new friend, Ofglen, is Offred still safe? Or are there powers at play beyond her comprehension?
What I Liked
- Ambiguous Ending: You may have noticed already that I love me an ambiguous ending. Even when it's frustrating not to get a "real" ending, I think the books that don't tie everything up in a bow nice and neat are the ones that stay with me longer. I can't stop thinking about them after. This book was the same, not only could I not put it down, but I couldn't stop thinking about it when I finally finished either. Needless to say, I'm even more excited for the Hulu show than I was before.
- Offred's Revisionist Nature: Throughout the story, Offred admits to revising certain things in order to make everything sound better to the reader. She admits that she isn't a perfect storyteller, that she is subjective due to the events that happened to her and I love that. Not only does it make the entire story sound more real, but it also tells us a little bit more about the oftentimes reserved Offred.
What I Didn't Like
- Gilead's Collapse?: The only drawback to an ambiguous ending is that sometimes our most pressing questions go unanswered. One such question I had was what lead to Gilead's eventual collapse? We read a little bit about the volatile nature of the leading class, but nothing about how it finally dissolved. It's strange that this bothers me a bit more than whether or not Offred made her escape. Although Offred's escape is a bit more easily imagined (I like to think that she made it and that she lived to see the collapse and that though she eventually reunited with her daughter, she remained for the most part a recluse).
- Romance seems Random: To be honest, Offred's romance with Nick was probably the only thing that made no sense to me. There just didn't seem to be much there, and then suddenly she was in love. For a character who had been so reserved and cautious throughout the novel, this seemed a sudden twist in the plot. Also, I noticed online that a lot of summaries of the novel stressed this romance as a central part of the plot, when it was really more of a sudden development that was thrown in in the later part of the last quarter.
- Moira's Ending: Moira, for most of the novel, was a symbol of Offred's hope. She represents the independence that Offred is still struggling to maintain a hold of in her mind. Seeing where she finally ended up, basically being used as a sex slave, was heartbreaking and frustrating. Offred spent the novel almost vicariously through Moira, imagining her escape and involvement in some underground rebellion. One thing that is interesting to note is after Offred discovers Moira's escape was a failed one, it seems like she, at times, begins to act in a less cautious more rebellious nature...almost like she is picking up the slack.
Quote of the Week
"...how can i expect her to go on, with my idea of her courage, live it through, act it out, when i myself do not?...I'd like her to end with something daring and spectacular, some outrage, something that would befit her. but as far as i know that didn't happen. i don't know how she ended, or even if she did, because i never saw her again," (289).
- What do you think of the ending I have imagined for Offred? What ending have you imagined? What final questions did you have that were left unanswered?
- What do you think about the format of the storytelling? How it ends up being a transcript instead of just a piece of writing. What do you think the purpose of doing this was? What effect does the final lecture transcript have over the piece as a whole?
- What did you think of the story as a whole? Did you find it realistic or completely unbelievable? What aspects of the novel do you want to bring up for discussion, let me know in the comments!