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Since I reread this novel partly as preparation for reading this forthcoming sequel I tried to pay attention to how its story might continue.
Like Offred, I had hoped she’d become a revolutionary fighting against the regime after escaping from the government-trained Aunts.
I was aware of the cost of sacrificing one’s own safety and security for the sake of a larger cause, but I still thought Moira was cowardly for not taking a stand.
But that wasn’t the only way I connected with the story.
I related to it and understood the shroud of silence Offred must maintain in order to survive.
But reading it now I feel Moira’s pain more acutely: the deleterious effects she must have felt smothering her own values for the sake of living and the crushing hopelessness knowing an act of rebellion would be futile because it would only end with her own death.
So my reactions to reading this novel that first time were mainly centred on the way I personally related to its story.
When I came out as gay in my teenager years I was explicitly instructed by my parents, teachers and school guidance counsellor not to speak about this facet of my identity with people in general.
So my strongest memory of reading this novel was in the canny way Offred chose her moments to reveal her true beliefs and feelings to others rather than toe the line.
When I first read this novel I was struck by the way Atwood describes how the Republic of Gilead punishes homosexual acts with hanging and, of course, I was aware that such executions have been carried out by many oppressive regimes over time.
I was struck that Offred’s lesbian friend Moira was in a particularly vulnerable position.
The imagery of the new cover includes a green smock so I wonder if one or all of these perspectives will be narrated by Marthas who are older infertile domestic servants within Gilead that only dress in green.