The Handmaids Tale

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The Handmaids Tale

The first two paragraphs of the book The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood have great importance to the rest of the book. It introduces the main character and the world that she used to live in. The two paragraphs are written with many clues that suggest what time it played in and what it was like in those times.

The first page of the book explains the situation that she is in and what she thinks of it. The narrator explains in great detail without using many words what the gym that she is in looks like, what she smells and what she thinks of it, "the pungent scent of sweat, shot through with the sweet taint of chewing gum and perfume." It reminds her of dances that she remembers; she then has a run through what the gym has been through, "miniskirts then pants then in one earring, spiky green streaked hair." This is walking through time from the 1950`s to the 1980`s. The way this is described gives it an eerie, ghostly feeling but still there is a feeling of finality and nostalgia. Then she continues to explain the dances that used to happen at the gym, as if they don't have them anymore, which gives it a nostalgic feeling. The second paragraph starts of with a sentence with juxtaposition; she explains what the room made her think of, old sex and loneliness. This is not a combination that one would expect; sex is generally associated with relationships not loneliness. The narrator then tells us that she remembered that she would yearn for something but it would never be as good as she pictured it to be, she is specifically talking about sex. The way the narrator calls the sex old sex gives the whole sentence a feeling of acknowledgement that the world is less than perfect. Furthermore it gives it a second meaning; old could also mean a varied purpose which could be fun instead of just for reproduction. The imagery used at the end of the second paragraph to describe sex and the places it happened gives of a haunting feeling which is not...
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