Asti's AP Lit & Comp 2017-2018 discussion

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message 1: by Mrs. Asti (new)

Mrs. Asti | 9 comments Mod
In many works of literature, past events can affect, positively or negatively, the present activities, attitudes, or values of a character. Choose a character from Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale", who must contend with some aspect of the past, either personal or societal. Then write a well-supported paragraph in which you show how the character’s relationship to the past contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.

Respond to this post using the comment link below. At the top of your post, please include your first and last name.


message 2: by Alicia (last edited Aug 11, 2017 04:17PM) (new)

Alicia Fernandez-Lopez | 10 comments Alicia Fernandez-Lopez

The past can shape one’s future either positively or negatively. In Margaret Atwood’s "The Handmaid’s Tale", various characters were affected by their past lives. Life in the Republic of Gilead depended on how one allowed their past to influence the present. The protagonist, Offred, had the most significant reencounters with her past throughout the novel. In the beginning of the novel, Offred has many flashbacks due to her surroundings and the memories that linger from the past. Offred remembered that, “Doctors lived here once, lawyers, university professors. There are not lawyers anymore, and the university is closed. Luke and I used to walk together, sometimes, along these streets. We used to talk about buying a house like one of these, an old big house, fixing it up. We would have a garden, swings for the children. We would have children. Although we knew it wasn’t too likely we could afford it, it was something to talk about, a game for Sundays. Such freedom now seems almost weightless” (Atwood 23-24). Luke is Offred’s husband before the creation of the Republic of Gilead. These flashbacks have a lot of meaning to her because it reminds Offred of her past self and her past life. Offred uses her past as a form of motivation. She is determined to find husband even within these circumstances. Her past affects Offred positively because she uses them as inspiration and that allows her to endure the treachery that is being done within the commander’s house. The past enables Offred to have tunnel vision and it keeps her eyes on the prize which is getting out of the Republic of Gilead. Another member from Offred’s past was her daughter. Offred was willing to do anything that assured her that her daughter was safe and not dead. Serena offered, “‘Another man,’ she says. ‘You know I can’t,’ I say, careful not to let my irritation show. ‘It’s against the law. You know the penalty.’ ‘Yes,’ she says. She’s ready for this, she’s thought it through. ‘I know you can’t officially. But it’s done. Women do it frequently. All the time… She leans forward. ‘Maybe I could get something for you,’ she says. Because I have been good. ‘Something you want,’ she adds, wheedling almost. ‘What’s that?’ I say. I can’t think of anything I truly want that she’d be likely or able to give me. ‘A picture,’ she says, as if offering me some juvenile treat, an ice cream, a trip to the zoo. I look up at her again, puzzle. ‘Of her,’ she says. ‘Your little girl. But only maybe.’” (Atwood 205-206). Even though the request was illegal, Offred still agreed to do it because she needed to know what has become of her child and her safety. It was the memory of her daughter that allowed her to persevere. Offred willing disregarded her safety in order to see her daughter. This part of her past affected her positively because when she does the act, she will find relief that she will be able to see her daughter even if it is through an image. In addition, this lead to the creation of a bond between Serena and Offred because they both were in it for their own personal reasons. Offred has a very close relationship to the past. Due to the lack of entertainment, Offred uses the various flashbacks as a way to entertain herself and it is somewhat like daydreaming of a foreign place. The past allows Offred to escape reality and that is why the bond between the past and Offred is very strong. Offred’s past helps shape the present Offred and her decisions that she has to make. The past helped stay true in what she believed in and it shaped her as a person.


message 3: by Nataly (new)

Nataly Ruiz (nruiz27264) | 9 comments Nataly Ruiz

The past is something that we constantly look back upon when we are faced with the uncertainty of the future. The past has made us who we are, and our past choices and experiences affect how we face the future. In Margaret Atwood's novel, "The Handmaid's Tale", we see how the past often plagues the thoughts of our protagonist, Offred. Offred thinks of the past frequently and what life was like before the rise of the Republic of Gilead. She constantly remembers where even certain shops were located before these events that drastically changed her life, "I try to remember what this place sold when it was a store, before it was soul scrolls. I think it was lingerie. Pink and silver boxes, colored pantyhose, brassieres with lace, silk scarves? Something lost." (Atwood 167). She is constantly reminded of her harsh situation and the only thing that keeps her going is her past- the family she hopes have survived the events that have turned her valuable only for her ability to give birth. Though she has been stripped of everything, her freedom, her identity, and her right as a human being, she has remained alive thanks to that hope. Offred only has one purpose at the Commander's house, and that is to bear a child. Because of the limited amount of activities that the handmaidens are allowed to do, she often turns to the past to comfort herself and to remind herself to keep going. She longs for all the things she took for granted such as fighting with her husband, "I'd like to have Luke here, in this bedroom while I'm getting dressed, so I could have a fight with him. Absurd, but that's what I want. An argument, about who should put the dishes in the dishwater, whose turn it is to sort the laundry, clean the toilet; something daily and unimportant in the big scheme of things... These days I script whole fights, in my head, and the reconciliations afterwards too. " (Atwood, 200). With these small fantasies, she hopes that one day the situation will become normal again ,"Every night when I go to bed I think, in the morning I will wake up in my own house and things will be back to the way they were. It hasn't happened this morning, either" (Atwood 199). She must contend with this reality because she believes that things will one day return to how how they were, and her past/memories keep that hope alive. Offred's past helps her shape her current aspirations for the future, and pushes her towards the risky decisions she takes to reunite or at least acquire information about her loved ones. Offred remains strong through her past, essentially not letting those that have cut off her wings, win.


message 4: by Daniel (new)

Daniel A. | 9 comments Daniel Alvarez

Every person in the real world has a past, whether it was a past filled with peace and happiness, or a past drowned in sadness and struggle. At the end of the day, the past formulates who a person is in the inside and on the outside, leading to the uniqueness in making choices on contending and coping with present events and possible future occurrences. It is never a good thing to completely forget about the past, as it has had some influence in how a person is today. The main protagonist of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Offred, reminisces several times throughout the course of the story. Offred consistently finds herself doing it either to serve as a coping mechanism for her current situation, or to serve as something to remind her to keep pushing forward, as there is always light at the end of the tunnel. It is mainly the memories of her husband, Luke, and her daughter that keep her sane throughout and never fully submit to the Republic of Gilead; she has the recurring hope that they are alive, somewhere. However, she often has triggered memories of life pre-Gilead; constantly haunting her and invading the personal space of her mind, sometimes of where buildings/places used to be, and sometimes of Western culture and how dress was back then; “I can remember where the buildings are, inside the wall; we used to be able to walk freely there, when it was a university. We still go in there once in a while, for Women's Salvagings.” (Atwood, 166). “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen skirts that short on women…they seem undress. It has taken so little time to change our minds about things like that. Then I think, I used to dress like that. That was freedom…” (Atwood, 28-29). The fact that there is no ‘freedom’ anymore in the Republic of Gilead is the prominent reality that gets inside Offred’s head. She has been so accustomed to it, that she describes the tourists as nearly undressed. However, she does not just have thoughts of the past that all they do is cause her to feel really homesick. As mentioned, she occasionally recollects the times she has had with Luke. “I know where I am. I’ve been here before: with Luke, in the afternoons, a long time ago…” (Atwood, 234). “I’d like to have Luke here, in this bedroom while I’m getting dressed, so I could have a fight with him…These days I script whole fights, in my head, and the reconciliations afterwards too.” (Atwood, 200). Instead of these memories simply just being memories that Offred likes to think about, they create a deep, gusting motive and reason within her that enables her to understand that there is potential for things to go back to normal, as long as she does not stand down. In Chapter 31, Offred is told that a picture of her daughter could be salvaged and brought for her to see. Knowing that this means that her daughter is most likely alive and living, this gives her an even stronger boost of determination and hope that things could go back to the way they were. However, it would be unlikely things would just resolve on their own, and Offred knows that. She knows she would have to contemplate and make risky decisions and keep sensitive secrets in order for her to find out if she could be able to escape her bird cage and see her husband and her daughter again and also to experience life pre-Gilead again. All in all, the only aspects allowing Offred to not simply accept her life in the Republic of Gilead and not care anymore are essentially everything she remembers in her past that were significant to her. There is always a potential that they are not gone forever. Without them, there simply…would not be an Offred.


message 5: by Malbis (new)

Malbis | 10 comments Malbis Martinez
In Margaret Atwood’s novel, “The Handmaids Tale”, Offred is consistently going back and forth between the past and the present, while expressing her thoughts on the ways things have changed since the Republic of Gilead. In chapter thirteen, Offred says, “I’m a cloud, congealed around a central object, the shape of a pear, which is hard and more real than I am and glows red within its translucent wrapping…” (Atwood 73-74). Before Gilead Offred’s body was cherished and her personality mattered. Now, the only thing that is important is her body because of its ‘central object’, her womb, which can bear a child. Offred’s reflection shows that she has adopted Gilead’s attitude toward women, which treats them not as individuals but as objects. Though Offred does start to feel like she does not matter to the world she still hopes, “Every night when I go to bed I think, in the morning I will wake up in my own house and things will be back to the way they were. It hasn't happened this morning, either" (Atwood 199). This optimism that she is keeping alive even though all the odds are against her shows how resilient she is as a person and her memories of past experiences have helped her in her current situation.


message 6: by Sophia (new)

Sophia | 9 comments Sophia Robison
As the years pass by, people normally look back on the years with a sense of fondness and nostalgia. Everyone does this from time to time because human beings enjoy recollecting past events. In the case of the main character in Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaids Tale, she remembers her past for a different reason. The main protagonist, Offred, remembers her past because not only does it give her hope, it is also the only form of escape she has from the life she is living. In Offred’s dystopian world, she is stripped of her basic human rights, her identity, and her self-worth. Throughout the novel, she frequently remembers what her life was like before the Republic of Gilead came to be. The reader gets glimpses of what her life used to be. We are shown moments she spent time with her mother during her childhood (Atwood 38) and we are also shown the last few moments Offred had with her daughter before she is taken away from her (Atwood 74-75). Offred also remembers her husband and the father of her child, Luke. Unfortunately, she is starting to forget what he looked like and her memory of him is becoming hazy. She states she should have, “…paid more attention, to the details, the moles and scars, singular creases; I didn’t and he’s fading.” (Atwood 269). She desperately clings on to the remaining memories that she has becomes it gives her hope. Hope that she will be reunited with her husband and daughter, despite it being extremely unlikely. Her hope and memories made it possible for her to endure the unpleasant and inhumane situations she’s been through.


message 7: by Adriana (new)

Adriana Gil | 9 comments Adriana Gil
In the novel written by Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaids Tale", the protagonist Offred knows who she is, because of her past. The memories of her past are a little off, but she never abandons them. Throughout the book, Offred tells us stories of her days before being a handmaid and introduces her husband, Luke, "In the afternoons when Luke was still in flight from his wife, when I was still imaginary for him. Before we were married and I solidified." (Atwood, 50). As he was mentioned, so was a child. This was Luke and Offred's daughter who was taken away from them at a young age (Atwood 75). As she imagines what the lives of Luke and her daughter are like, it gives her hope for the future of her finally leaving the cruel house and reuniting with them, "Eight she must be now. I filled in the time I lost, I know how much there's been", (Atwood, 64). Another character from the past is mentioned, her mother. Offred shares moments spent with her at a park when she was just a little girl, "Or in a park somewhere, with my mother. How old was I?" (Atwood 38). While Offred is living a life not wanted, these memories of her loved ones from her past life are what keep her sane. She must believe that one day she will get her freedom back. The memories of her beloved past are what helps and gives her strength to go through the hardships of staying at the Commander's house, such as her getting raped by him because her only value is to become pregnant. Her final hope is that everyone from her past, and everything from it will return to normal.


message 8: by Lizbeth (new)

Lizbeth Aparicio | 9 comments Lizbeth Aparicio

In Margaret Atwood's, "The Handmaid's Tale", the reader is immediately exposed to a world far unlike their own. They are shown what life is like in the Republic of Gilead, a freedom-stripping land where life seems to revolve around the wonders of a woman's uterus. Upon just beginning to read the book, the reader is introduced to Offred, the narrator and protagonist of this tale. Offred, a handmaid, tells of her encounters in Gilead throughout the length of the story, all while holding on to the blissfulness of her past. She latches on to her past memories, from before the Republic even came to be, as a means of offering herself hope: a hope that there is far more to life beyond her situation and a hope that she may possibly one day be able to taste the sweetness of a free life once again. This is demonstrated through the many encounters in which her mind goes back in time, particularly, though, when she asks herself, "Do I exist for her? Am I a picture somewhere, in the dark at the back of her mind? (Atwood, 64), when thinking about her daughter. This quote is so important, primarily because it is in that moment that the reader is first being introduced to Offred's daughter, but it is also crucial to the plot because they are able to pick up a sense of hope from Offred's tone. Moreover, it is evident that Offred holds out this hope for her daughter's well being, that she may be alive somewhere, remembering what it felt like to be in her mother's sweet embrace, all despite the war and oppression at her surroundings. This hope pushes Offred to go on. It is due to precisely this, among other reasons, that she is able to endure all hardships throughout the length of the novel. She hopes to possibly one day be reunited with her little one, as well as her former husband, Luke. The incorporation of flashbacks throughout the tale also tends to give way to Offred's identity and who she was before she was stripped of nearly all decision-making processes. This is evident when she thinks, "It's been a long time since I've seen skirts that short on women...they seem undressed. It has taken so little time to change our minds about things like that. Then I think, I used to dress like that. That was freedom. Westernized, they used to call it" (Atwood, 28). Although the indoctrination that she has endured while serving as a handmaid in Gilead has changed her initial views on several things, Offred still recognizes that she once partook in many of those "obscenities", as she might call it. She realizes that she, herself, used to be those women, and is forced to view things from a new perspective. All in all, flashbacks without a doubt play a large role in the development of "The Handmaid's Tale". Without them, the plot simply would not be the same and the reader would likely become overwhelmed with sadness and guilt for Offred. Instead, they are able to join her in hoping that her circumstances soon change.


message 9: by Yareliz (new)

Yareliz | 9 comments Yareliz Ferreira-Past
In “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, the people of Gilead are forced into a specific lifestyle. Everyone in Gilead was taken from their old life. The government decided to changed and make new rules. Rules that ended up taking families apart. Offred, the main character, was the most described character in the book. The book described both her previous life and her life in the present. Atwood described Offred’s past through flashbacks. For example, activities she would do in the present would trigger memories from before, “…suddenly, without warning, it must be the smell of the soap. I put my face against the soft hair at the back of her neck and breathe her in, baby powder and child’s washed flesh and shampoo, with an undertone, the faint scent of urine.” By smelling her bath soap she recalled a memory of her daughter. When Offred had memories like this she would find it difficult to hold onto., as it caused her great pain. She missed her life, her husband, her daughter, even her mom. I think Offred’s past life really made the book more emotional and heartfelt. Without it the book would be pretty dry and emotionless. Giving a character a past like this contributes to the book greatly, it gives it a more sentimental meaning, and also provides a stronger connection between the audience and character. While reading about Offred’s life, both before and after she was taken, it made me feel closer to Offred and her pain. What really hit me was the part about her daughter. To be taken from your own child is something no mother should ever have to go through. I imagined myself being taken from my mother and felt Offred’s sadness. It would hurt deeply. Although, Offred was incredibly strong and dealt with her situation well. She held back her tears most of the time and always moved forward. She became stronger every time she made it through a flashback, or obstacle. That was one thing I liked about Offred, no matter what pain she was going through she pushed herself, and kept faith in herself.


message 10: by Larry (new)

Larry Haya-Cuan | 9 comments Larry Haya-cuan

In "The Handmaid's Tale,” Offred was the main character that was mainly talked about. The book describes her both past and present life, where things like activities, would give her flashbacks of her past! Flashbacks gave her meaningful memories of her family, and the freedom she once had. For example, Offred saw a fan and thought of Moira. “They’ve given me a small electric fan, which helps in this humidity..If i were Moira, I’d know how to take it apart, reduce it to cutting edges…We said this all the time in my kitchen…” These flashbacks of the past contributes to Offred as a whole because she still remembers her loved ones. Her identity is something only her and her family knows. She doesn’t tell anyone about her real self because she doesn’t want the government to take that from her. The government has taken everything from her except her identity. That gives Offred a sense of purpose. With out these past events, the book wouldn’t have a great impact because it wouldn't show her past life, which was better than the one she is trapped in. These flashbacks of her past gave her faith to continue forward, to fight to the very end. Through all of the suffering Offred has gone through, each part she made it through made her stronger. The more obstacles she passed, the more hope she had of possibly getting her old life back.


message 11: by Valeria (new)

Valeria Batlle | 9 comments Valeria Batlle
In Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" the past is very important for characters in the novel since it shapes them and determines how they will react to present activities. The characters can either be really attached to the past, which can make them feel unconformity towards the way they live, or they could have chosen to forget about the past and live only in the present, which can change them and make them think that what the Republic of Gilead is going through is normal, and that there is nothing wrong with its ways of handling different situations. Offred, the main character, has many flashbacks of her past life throughout the whole story. For example, when she is going about a normal task as shopping with Ofglen, she notices that the store she was in was not giving out plastic bags and she remembered that in the past there were too many of those plastic bags, so many that they would just bulge out of their place and slide over the floor of her former house, then she adds, “Luke used to complain about it. Periodically he would take all the bags and throw them out. She could get one of those in her head, he’d say.” (Atwood, 27) Remembering something as small as this lets one know that Offred misses even the little things in life she wouldn’t have noticed before. She includes her family (Luke and their daughter) and the foolish things she and Luke would argue about. She even misses worrying about ordinary things like her daughter getting a plastic bag over her head. (This is a common worry for parents). These flashes of the past contribute to the work as a whole by simply illustrating that Offred's humanity is still there, they cause the reader to suffer along with her as she goes through this horrible series of events that have separated her more and more from her past.


message 12: by Ryan (last edited Aug 23, 2017 01:27PM) (new)

Ryan Smoorenburg | 9 comments Ryan Smoorenburg
In Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale", there are several characters who explore and dwell into their past events. One in particular, Offred, has alot of foreshadowing and "look back" moments in the novel. The main event or thing that Offred really thinks about that involved her past was her relationship with Luke. She remembers how much of an awesome guy he was and how much of a great time they spent together. We see this explained briefly in the novel by the speaker herself and can also assume that Luke is unfortunately dead, which leaves her only to remember the now intangeable moments she had with him. What is also interesting about the novel is Offred's use of her past with Luke and her comparisons she has with the present time in the novel. Offred compares the relationship she had with the Commander to the one with Luke, for example. These comparisons give the reader a better insight of her perspective and personal point of view on things than just what we might assume. The author also does a great job of having her past time as a real influence and aid for her decision making and opinion making on matters such as the Commander and her situation with him in the novel. Offred's past time and descriptions of her relationship with Luke provide the reader a well detailed backbone to Offred's character as a whole.


message 13: by Alexandra (new)

Alexandra Younger | 9 comments Alexandra Younger
In Margaret Atwood's, "The Handmaid's Tale" every character came from some sort of background and had a past they were not allowed to share because of the new found government. Past experiences have the ability to form who we are as a person and how we react to certain situations we are put in—the same can be said about the protagonist in this book, Offred. Before becoming a handmaid, Offred had a husband, a daughter and a normal life. Living in this new world—torn apart from her family—she feels a longing and heartache that will never go away until she reunites with her loved ones. Atwood writes, "I step into the water, lie down, let it hold me. The water is soft as hands. I close my eyes, and she's there with me, suddenly without warning, it must be the smell of the soap. I put my face against the soft hair at the back of her neck and breathe her in, baby powder and child's washed flesh and shampoo , with an undertone, the faint scent of urine" (63). Offred is reminded of a past experience with her baby girl from the simple act of bathing. This is a powerful scene and reminder of what was taken away from her. These vivid recollections have the ability of giving Offred something to long and fight for. Without them she would be an empty shell of a human. Throughout the book we see more of that yearning desire to return to her old life, "I want Luke here so badly. I want to be held and told my name. I want to be valued, in ways that I am not; I want to be more than valuable. I repeat my former name, remind myself of what I once could do, how others saw me" (97). Offred's reminders of the past will later in turn affect how she reacts to certain encounters with other characters like the commander, and doing things that are against the rules to fulfill the void in her new life.


message 14: by Natalie (last edited Aug 24, 2017 08:46PM) (new)

Natalie | 9 comments Natalie Aziza

The past plays a crucial role in "The Handmaid's Tale." Through recounts of past experiences and bittersweet memories, Offred allows the audience to enter her world and experience what has brought her to this point, that is: how she ended up in Gilead, what became of her family and friends, and what motivates her in the present day of the novel. She also has the tendency of comparing things to her past experiences. This happens in all chapters; not one chapter goes without some sort of recollection of a past experience, emotion, or belief. The past also shapes the setting of the story and how it came to be. From what is stated in the novel, declining birth rates and the feminism movement contributed heavily to the reformation of the American government. Opposers saw them as a threat, because a great number of women were refusing to have children, and thus lead the country into a downward spiral of ongoing, declining birth rates. To prevent this from happening, the anti-feminists took matters into their own hands and overthrew the government by murdering the president, and established the Republic of Gilead. Fast forward a few years, and the events of the novel take place. It is important to note that the past isn't served to us on a silver platter, we progress through it, one step at a time. In doing so, Atwood keeps the audience suspended in curiosity and sustains their focus this way. The withholding of information is meant to establish the mood of the novel.


message 15: by Leonel (last edited Aug 24, 2017 02:12PM) (new)

Leonel Martinez | 9 comments Leonel Martinez
Throughout the book, “Handmaid’s Tale,” the narrator, Offred is constantly reminiscing about the past, as she expresses her thoughts towards the futuristic United States, in a town called Gilead. As the new world is run by an extremist society of Christians, disallowing women from reading, writing, holding money, and holding jobs, Offred reminds herself of the past with her family, Luke and her daughter, where she could wear what she pleased, not what was forced upon all fertile women. In the book, Offred reminds the readers of a world where women had freewill and were not forced to become a surrogate for military families. Fertile women in the book where pulled away from their families and forced to live in seclusion with little to no hope of leaving “I know why the glass in the window is shatterproof, and why they took down the chandelier” (Atwood 52). The Handmaids could not end their own suffering, they were forced to continue “fucking” the commanders. The past, to Offred, was a way to remain hopeful, as she constantly thought of the lifeful days of her past, with the thought of her daughter, Luke and Moira. The past brought to the book a sense that the narrator lived in two separate worlds, as she was going back and forth between realities, showing the readers the vast differences between both worlds.


message 16: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Lavina | 10 comments Mrs. Asti wrote: "In many works of literature, past events can affect, positively or negatively, the present activities, attitudes, or values of a character. Choose a character from Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's..."

In “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, every character has a different story to tell and a past very discrete from their current lives in the novel. The past shapes each character and gives them hope to one day re-experience their lives, before the Republic of Gilead. The main character and narrator of the story, Offred, often dwells on her flashbacks which cause her to struggle with the present. In the past, she was married to a man named Luke and they had a child together. She struggles over whether to try to remember him or let him go, and often thinks if she should keep figuring out if he is dead or alive. Her memory of Luke gave her hope and the strength she needed to survive in Gilead, “I ought to have done that with Luke, paid more attention, to the details, the moles and scars, the singular creases; I didn't and he's fading. Day by day, night by night he recedes, and I become more faithless. “(Pg.269) As her memories of Luke come back to her, she uses them as a comparison to her current situations with the commander to make them more bearable. Offred also often thinks about her daughter, Luke’s child, which also helps her keep a positive mindset that one day she might get out. She continuously thinks of their escape, and of her daughter “holding her arms out to me, being carried away.” The constant hope Offred had due to her memories of the past motivated her to get through the unpleasant situations which she had been through.


message 17: by Jade (new)

Jade Berisso | 7 comments Jade Berisso

In Margaret Atwood's novel "The Handmaids Tale" the protagonist Offred continuously reminisces on her past to remind her of moments she went through in the time before the new social order in Gilead. Throughout the novel Offred is acknowledging the past moments and events that were once part of her life. Because of this it helps to understand her emotions, feelings, and desires based on how she is towards the past and present time. Offred finds a sense of hope in anything she notices from things that were once allowed before,but is now considered a violation. In chapter 8 she says,"The kitchen smells of yeast, a nostalgic smell.It reminds me of the other kitchens, kitchens that were mine. It smells of mothers;although my own mother did not make bread. It smells of me, in former times, when I was a mother"(Atwood, 47). Offred remembering her maternal times connects to her on a more emotional level since her daughter was taken away from her. Memories such as these are bittersweet. Offred then mentions her husband Luke by saying "Luke and I used to walk together, sometimes, along these streets. We used to talk about buying a house like one of these, an old big house, fixing it up. We would have a garden, swings for children"(Atwood, 23). Offred connects to her past so she doesn't forget what life was like before.She misses the things that she was able to do and felt free, but in the present she is searching for some hope that things can change. In chapter 6 Offred states, "when we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that"(Atwood,30). From that line it represents how Offred views her past. She intends on remembering the 'beautiful things' since the present time makes her feel like she's trapped and restricted. So she lets her mind wander to help her connect to the things that keep her sane.


message 18: by Angelina (last edited Aug 25, 2017 05:23PM) (new)

Angelina Navarro | 9 comments Reminiscing is often that simple sliver of paradise which many dive into for warmth; the sheer nostalgia digging itself deep into the chest and resting just above the heart--happiness accompanied by a ghost of light sorrow. For the most part, looking back is a positive thing, for one is able to recollect experiences, lessons learned. It is often an excuse to live vicariously through the better times, as well, for sometime the present and the accumulating pressure of the future is just too daunting to face in some moments. On the other hand, the ability to remember is like a cold enemy, a malicious voice in one's head. For Offred, Margaret Atwood's strong female protagonist in her book the Handmaid's Tale, it is both a blessing and a curse to be able to remember. There are so many occurrences that take place in the novel where Offred jumps back in time and retrieves a past event of her life, whether it be of Luke, her child, her mother, or even her friend, Moira. What is interesting, however, is that each time she does this, it seems as though she associates it with what is happening in her present time, though there are moments where a memory pops up at random. An example of Offred relating a past memory to her present situation can be found in chapter 3, where she strolls through the Commander's Wife's garden, stating, "I once had a garden. I can remember the smell of the turned earth, the plump shapes of bulbs held in hands, fullness, the dry rustle of seeds through the fingers." (Atwood, pg. 12). Almost immediately, she flows into the past, for it is such an easy thing to do when she is in a society so harsh and different it drives her to recall even the smallest of things that make her feel at ease. However, there are times when her memories leave her longing and yearning, hurting for her past to be her reality yet again, and not just a blissful escape from what her life has come to. This could be exemplified in chapter 18, where in the previous chapter, she had a brief, slightly passionate encounter with Nick that left her with feelings of yearning and longing, thus making her think back, saying, "This is what I feel like: this sound of glass. I feel like the word shatter. I want to be with someone...Lying in bed, with Luke, his hand on my rounded belly." (Atwood, pg. 103). If read a little further, along with this, one can see that Offred is torn with feelings of needing that love she was so abundant with in the past. All she can do is battle her natural desires as well as deal with the absence of the love she had before that she has with no one else now, and it is a feeling of deep conflict as well as emptiness. Offred's past is a pivotal facet within the book, acting as an escape route and an inevitable trap. It is something that keeps her company, as well as leaves her in lonely torture.


message 19: by Laura (new)

Laura Gonzalez | 11 comments In Margaret Atwood's novel, "The Handmaids Tale", Offred endures a constant battle with her inner thoughts. Her past has kept her from becoming a soulless Handmaid who's only duty is to have babies.
She relives her happiest moments through memories and they give her comfort in the darkest of times. She remembers Pre-Gilead times and how fond she was of it, she had a beautiful family whom she adored and a fulfilling life. However, everything is gone and not as it used to be. "I try to remember what this place sold when it was a store, before it was soul scrolls. I think it was lingerie. Pink and silver boxes, colored pantyhose, brassieres with lace, silk scarves? Something lost." (Atwood 167). Offred hangs on to these memories and those of her husband and daughter to keep her at peace. She finds hope in the fact that maybe one day she’ll be reunited and be able to be with them. Her past is what gives her the strength to not commit suicide or to give in into Gilead ideologies. The past enables Offred to escape reality and it helps determine the choices that she needs to make. Also it helped her remain confident and it molded her as a person.


message 20: by Laura (last edited Aug 24, 2017 07:26PM) (new)

Laura Gonzalez | 11 comments Lizbeth wrote: "Lizbeth Aparicio

In Margaret Atwood's, "The Handmaid's Tale", the reader is immediately exposed to a world far unlike their own. They are shown what life is like in the Republic of Gilead, a freed..."


This is a very thought out answer and awesome point of view, really enjoyed reading it.


message 21: by Angelyn (new)

Angelyn Perez | 9 comments In "The Handmaid's Tale," recounting the past is common to see in almost every chapter. The author shifts from present to past when she does not utilize quotation marks in conversations from her memories. This gives Margaret Atwood's work a unique touch whereas in other novels, flashbacks are usually italisized or separated by large spaces. The past is a significantly large part of this novel because it allows the readers to view how the society has developed into what it became. Through the main character's trips down memory lane, the readers learn important aspects of her former life. These aspects include her husband and daughter, riots from before the war, and events leading up to the present. One's past could either make them or break them. An excellent example of someone's past breaking them is Janine, a fellow handsmaid. After Janine's first miscarriage, she succumbed to a more pleasant time in her former life rather than the misfortunate circumstances she was currently facing. "I was looking at Janine. her eyes were open, but they didn't see me at all. They were rounded, wide, and her teeth, she was whispering to herself. I had to lean down close to her. Hello, she said, but not to me. My name's Janine. Im your waitperson for this morning. Can I get you some coffee to begin with?" (Atwood, 216) In the Republic of Gilead, there is no such thing remotely close to restaurants with waiters. Her past had come to haunt when Janine was at her lowest. It was her way of coping with her current situations. Offred, the main character, relives her former life at night, where there are no Eyes to watch her. She describes it as escaping to another world and handpicks which type of memory she wants to relive before falling asleep. Offred constantly compares the past and present. How things are now to how they used to be. There are moments where something gives her nostalgia, which leads her to repress those thoughts. In this society, the past is not a recommended place to revisit. The handmaids are given a new identity, a new name, a new life. Offred explains that her past holds her hostage. "You'll have to forgive me. I'm a refugee from the past, and like other refugees I go over the customs and habits of being I've left or been forced to leave behind me, and it seems just as quaint, from her, and I am just as obsessive about it. Like a White Russian drinking tea in Paris, marooned in the twentieth century, I wander back, try to regain those distant pathways; I become too maudlin, lose myself. Weep. Weeping is what it is, not crying. I sit in this chair and ooze like a sponge." (Atwood, 227) Who she used to be mocks her. Ironically, Offred's past life makes her perceive herself as a wimp, an obedient follower, but as the story continues, she is anything but. A person's past experiences determines their attitude towards life, how they value things, and decisions in the present. Whether their past experiences were traumatizing or eye-opening, it will forever be a stain in their lives that can never be washed out, no matter how many times it is scrubbed.


message 22: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Polonio | 9 comments Elizabeth Polonio

The past to many is seen as a burden, but to others it is seen as a learning experience. In Margaret Atwood's, "The Handmaids Tale" the main character, Offred, often reminices about her past before the Republic of Gilead. For instance when she thinks back about her memories with her child and husband, Luke, and the life that she used to have, it allows her to have some sort of escape in this new society that she has been forced into. But even though these thoughts and memories may give her hope the thought of one day things will go back to the way they were also hinders her mentality because she knows that it never will. Atwood writes, "Every night when I go to bed I think, in the morning I will wake up in my own house and things will be back to the way they were. It hasn't happened this morning, either." (Atwood 199). This constant thought of having things back to the way they were shows that she longs for the end of Gilead but she knows that it's most unlikely to happen. Her past memories shape who she is in the Republic of Gilead now.


message 23: by Mariaura (new)

Mariaura Morocho | 9 comments In Margret Atwood's, Handmaids Tale, Offred struggled with her past and present, at many times she had flashbacks that reminded her of her pre Gilead days. Offreds past is what gave her strength to keep going and not give up with the constant struggles that she faced in Gilead. She has hope that her family is still alive and that she can be reunited with them once again. Her past is very important and through her memories we as readers know how Gilead came about.


message 24: by Alex (new)

Alex Azoy | 9 comments Alex Azoy

Reminiscing and reflecting on the past seems to be embedded in human nature itself, we constantly look back on past memories with either fondness or distaste. In "The Handmaids Tale" Offred’s thoughts of the past is what instills hope even when society is so cruel and unfair. In Gilead she is stripped of human rights, she is more of an object and piece of property than an actual person in the eyes of society; her past is a way to escape this harsh new reality. Offred typically reminisces on how Gilead was before and her relationship and ties to her family, she hopes to be reunited with her child and husband, Luke. Offred’s past in a sense is her identity, what keeps her from becoming just a tool that is used to produce babies. Offred’s past is also a tool to give the reader insight on how the Offred’s world was Pre-Gilead and emphasize just how severely her life was thrown into a spiral. Overall, the past at times is a tearful reminder of just how different Offred’s life was Pre-Gilead; however, the memories of her loved ones and possible hope of being with them once again is what keeps her from taking her own life and succumbing to an unfair society.


message 25: by JoMari (new)

JoMari | 9 comments One character whose past events have a negative effect on their present activities as well as their actions, within the novel “The Handmaid’s Tale’” written by Margaret Atwood, would have to be the narrator's “friend” Janine from the Center with the aunts. Aside from Offred, our narrator, Janine has a tough time dealing with the present as memories of her past stir up in her mind. We might not get a precise understanding of what she happens to be thinking about, but from the way Offred describes her actions within certain scenes demonstrates the effects that this different lifestyle from her previous one has on her. One crucial event in supporting this claim would be when she was found by Offred and a few other girls one day at the Red Center, spaced out and reiterating common phrases she would use in her previous daily life. This causing Moira to help her in snapping out of such a daze. The scene described above has a great contribution to the book as a whole in showing that our narrator isn't the only character who struggles with the remembrance of events from their past lifestyle and how this new way of living isn't fully healthy for them. The fight to adapt to a drastic change by being taken out of a routine that they we're so used to.


message 26: by Christy (new)

Christy | 8 comments Christine Diaz

Everyone's past plays a role in the kind of person they are today. In Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale", the protagonist, Offred, is faced with many challenges in getting accustomed to life as a handmaid. In the past, Offred is used to having freedom and being with who she wants but as a handmaid, she has no choice but to be with who she is assigned to. Also, in her previous life, she was able to go out and buy what she needed when she wanted with no supervision.When she became a handmaid she was treated somewhat like a prisoner. Her past experiences emphasize the complete 360 that she endured and how difficult her life became. For the book, this makes the readers understand and relate to the protagonist even more than they had in the beginning.


message 27: by Fernando (new)

Fernando | 9 comments Fernando Murillo

In Margaret Atwood's, "The Invisible Man", Offred the main character is taken away from her family and has to adapt to her new life. She is always remembering her past and her family to give her hope that she could one day go back to her normal life. She will for ever envision herself being reunited with her family. Through every difficulty, remebering her past and family gives her strength to get through whatever challenge is in her way. Her reminiscing of her past adds to the meaning of the work as a whole by adding how hard she was gonna try and how badly she wanted to get out of Gilead and be reunited with her family


message 28: by Valeria (new)

Valeria Londono | 9 comments Valeria Londono

To many people the past can be something that should be buried and never spoken of again, to others it can be a thing that should be appreciated but not too much because living in the past can harm you, while to others the past can be a beautiful thing to remember, to push you through in life or simply to use as a distraction to escape from reality which of course depending on the situation this last one can be really good or really bad. In the novel “ The handmaid’s tale” by Margaret Atwood, the main character’s (Offred) past plays a huge role as the story is told since Offred’s past is what shapes her as a person back then and even at that moment. Her past or more specifically in this case, her memories are what constantly reminds the reader that she’s there, she’s living and not just surviving. These moments give the readers clear evidence that Offred still hopes to see her family, to be liberated, that the world goes back to how it used to be. Of course “hope” is one of the strongest “humane feelings” and hand in hand with this hope, she hopes that in the end things go well for her, her family and her close ones in this new society. By remembering her past and reliving her memories in her head Offred can seem to be able to use this as some type of distraction from the horrifying society she is currently stuck on.


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