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CPSS The Handmaids Tale & the Seventies and Eighties Discussion

I’m working on a literature discussion question and need a sample draft to help me learn.

This unit covers the section entitled Jezebel’s in the novel. Jezebel’s is a state-run brothel in which the privileged men who frequent it are indulging the same male sexual fantasies as in the time before Gilead. Discuss what you think is meant by each of the following comments and how you react to them. Decide what messages Atwood is trying to put across here about relationships between men and women. How relevant are these messages for today’s society?

p.128: Sometimes the movie she (Aunt Lydia) showed would be an old porno film, from the seventies and eighties… ‘Consider the alternatives,’ said Aunt Lydia. ‘You see what things used to be like? That was what they thought of women, then.’

p.130: ‘I don’t want a man around, what use are they except for ten seconds’ worth of half babies… They aren’t a patch on a woman except they’re better at fixing cars and playing football.’

p. 221: ‘The main problem was with the men. There was nothing for them any more… There was nothing to work for, nothing to fight for.’

p. 232: ‘Those years (of equality) were just an anomaly, historically speaking,’ the Commander said. ‘Just a fluke. All we’ve done is return things to Nature’s norm.’

p. 245: He (Commander) slips around my wrist a tag, purple, on an elastic band, like tags for airport luggage. ‘If anyone asks you, say you’re an evening rental.’

p. 248: …and as he talks his spine straightens imperceptibly, his chest expands, his voice assumes more and more the sprightliness and jocularity of youth. It occurs to me he is showing off.

p. 249: ‘It means you can’t cheat Nature,’ he says. ‘Nature demands variety for men. It stands to reason, it’s part of the procreational strategy. It’s Nature’s plan…Women know that instinctively. Why did they buy so many different clothes in the old days? To trick men into thinking they were several different women. A new one for each day.’

p. 255: They like to see you painted up. Just another crummy power trip.


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