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Word Count: 1,218
What if American women were suddenly returned to their cloistered state of old in which their only freedom was the freedom from the dangers of the surrounding world Then again did women ever truly achieve freedom to at all The first society is Modern America with its relatively liberal mores and customs and the second is Gilead a totalitarian Christian theocracy which takes control of America in the late 1980s in order to save it from its pollution and dwindling birthrate The novels protagonist Offred uses two sets of images to document the history of these contrasting societies She recounts to the reader with a startling poignancy and photographic clarity the images of her memories of her past life as an American woman and those of her present life as a Handmaid or uterine slave to the Republic of Gilead The descriptive imagery used by Offred to describe her experience has a richness and directness which translates each scene so effectively that they take on an almost photographic quality to the reader In effect imagery in this book is practically synonymous with photography It is important to note however that the novel written in first person has a certain subjectivity that cannot be associated with a photograph Each image although it is photographic detailed and precise in its rendering is also mingled with the narrators own emotional reaction to it The narrator herself is aware of her own capacity to err She calls her own account a reconstruction because its impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was you always have to leave something out there are too many parts sides crosscurrents nuances inferring that her story is based on flawed memories of what truly passed Like Offred we are thrown head first into a foreign world experiencing perhaps the same sense of confusion Also like Offred the world of Gilead eventually becomes
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