Close Analysis

Topics: The Handmaid's Tale, Reconstruction era of the United States, Margaret Atwood Pages: 2 (614 words) Published: April 20, 2013
This passage from Chapter 23 of The Handmaid’s Tale consists of three main sections: reconstruction, language, and forgiveness. The first part focuses on the story itself – the way it is reconstructed in Offred’s mind and then conveyed to the reader. The second part focuses on how the story is reconstructed through language. The third part focuses on the power and the nature of forgiveness. The reconstruction presents Offred as a somewhat unreliable narrator, saying, “This is a reconstruction. All of this is a reconstruction. It’s a reconstruction now, in my head, as I lie flat on my single bed rehearsing what I should or shouldn’t have said, what I should or shouldn’t have done, how I should have played it.” This encourages the reader to wonder whether she had missed out on or forgotten to add in any vital elements or key events in the story that might have influenced the way it had planned out, or the reader’s interpretation of it. Offred then assures the reader that she intends to get out, explaining that it can’t last forever and others had also got out one way or another, but for them, “it may have lasted all the forever they had.” Following on from this, Offred explains that when she does get out, when she finally passes on her story “in any form, even in the form of one voice to another, it will be a reconstruction then too, at yet another remove”, which is ironic because of the fact that the reader is having the story passed on to them not through verbal communication, but through the written word. She worries that the story will not properly be passed on, and says that it’s “impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out”, implying that there is too much human experience that language cannot be given too – there can be no exact connection between what is being said and the perception that the listener or the reader is forming in their mind from these words. “there are too...
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