The Handmaid's Tale

By: Margaret Atwood

Read time: 2 mins

I’ll readily admit I had no idea what this book was before hearing of the Hulu show. I have never considered myself well read, or any sort of literary expert, so I have no shame in admitting that. But after a few episodes of the show, I knew I needed to read the book. And with a long weekend trip coming up with multiple plane, train, and car rides involved, I had just the time to do it.

In a discussion about the show recently, a friend of mine said he was turned off by the apparent mocking of Christianity. While I can certainly understand where he was coming from, I patiently explained that the extremes to which the nation of Gilead took it’s Judeo-Christian “values” was exactly the point being made. When taken to extremes, any religion quickly devolves into misery.

The book certainly made me take a step back and look at our current culture/society to examine just how close we are to Gilead. We’re not too far removed from our past and the oppression of women (and minorities in general) that we’ve removed all chances of diving right back in to it if the wrong people were to gain power.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

The nonsense Latin phrase that roughly translates to “don’t let the bastards grind you down” has become a sort of rally cry for women (and allies), but I believe is just a great thing for anyone to remember. I’m sure there are hundreds of tattoos existing or planned for this phrase.

Under His Eye

Within the Gilead nation, there are handful of repeated phrases that the people use in passing, or as daily greetings, as a part of the religion.

“Under His eye” “Praise be!” “Blessed be the fruit”

Without getting into the fact that many of these phrases themselves are rather oppressive (a reminder that someone is always watching you), they made me think about how phrases such as these work their way into a religious life and how they can act as both beneficial or harmful depending on the specific usage.

Read it

Overall, I loved the book. A gripping story, an impactful message, and reminder to always be on guard against authority and power within a spiritual journey.