Offred's Narrative Technique in The Handmaid's Tale Essays

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Offred affects every single aspect of "The Handmaid's Tale", so, in order to understand her narrative technique better, her character must also be considered.

Offred is nostalgic, she longs for her pre-Gilead past with which she still identifies very strongly. She is, however, realistic in her longing; she knows that the past was not perfect, that it was no utopia, but she just longs for a situation preferable to her present one, "...We lived, as usual, by ignoring...". Another strong reason for to long for the past is that she was basically happy there, she had a daughter and a lover, both of which she was removed from by the Gilead regime. Her longing for the past is bittersweet, although it has many memories for her,
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("Mayday....it's French...From M'aidez. Help me.") She also plays nonsense games with words, "Serena Joy...It's like something you'd put on your hair.." Words and reading are important to Offred, because they are hers alone, the words because nobody can remove them from her head, and the two scraps that she finds to read because every time she reads them, or even thinks them, she is, in some small way, rebelling, even if she doesn't understand what she has read, at least she has read it.

Offred is also an intelligent woman, this is obvious by her literate, vivid way of telling her story, by her word-play games and by her way of coping with Gilead in general. Serena Joy even says "I know you aren't stupid". Offred is very aware of her situation, "I know why there is no glass, in front of the water colour picture...., and why the window only opens partly and why the glass in it is shatterproof" . By seeing and commenting on the boundaries and lack of freedom she has, she gains a feeling that she has won a small victory, somehow got one over on the regime.

The story is divided up between two distinct types of section which alternate throughout; the "Night" and the "Day" sections. The structure of these sections ties in with the actual structure of Offreds life. The rhythm of these sections is broken only once, and that by a "Nap" section, which is effectively a night section, just that it happens to

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