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Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale": A Contextual Dystopia ("La servante écarlate" de Margaret Atwood: une dystopie contextuelle) Author(s): David Ketterer Source: Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Jul., 1989), pp. 209-217 Published by: SF-TH Inc Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4239936 Accessed: 15/07/2010 01:21
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David Ketterer Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid'sTale: A Contextual Dystopia
Atwood'sinterestin SF andfantasyhas foundonly Until recentlyMargaret in incidental expression hercreativework.At the conclusionof LadyOracle a (1976), the narrator, writerof "CostumeGothics,"reflects:"maybeI'll try some science fiction. The futuredoesn't appealto me as much as the past, but I'm sure it's betterfor you" (37:345). Atwood herself has since tried some SF, most notably The Handmaid's Tale (1985), which was Prizein France,shortlisted the nominated the Ritz-Paris for for Hemingway BookerPrize,andwon the Los AngelesTimesPrize,the Goverprestigious nor General'sAwardin Canada,and the first ArthurC. ClarkeAwardfor the best SF workpublishedin Britainin 1986. TheHandmaid's Tale is, in SF fact, the best and most successful SF novel writtenby a Canadian. is when it is aboutsomething only worthyof seriousattention real;andin this the case, underlying mutedfeministpolemic,the centraltheme,equallyreal andearlieridentifiedby Atwoodas particularly is Canadian, thatof human survival.' How long will we survive?That, after all, is the big question aboutthe future. Atwood has imagined a late-20th-centuryfuture where a woman's is since disease and pollution abilityto procreate of paramount importance have led to a catastrophic decline in the birthrate. Given this situation,the patriarchal Republicof Gilead,establishedas the resultof a coup in New England,has thwartedwhat might seem a likely outcome:the increasing power of women with "viableovaries"(38:234). After passinglaws denyand ing womenjobs, property, money, all women who were not officially recognizedas Wives, widows, or lower-classEconowiveswere sortedinto four groups:(1) women with viable ovariesbecame"two-leggedwombs" (23:128), nuns of fertilityknown as Handmaids; dressedin red habitsand white-winged hoods, each, aftera periodof training, was assignedto a particularCommander his sterileWife; (2) post-menopausal unmarried and or sterilewomencalledAunts,whosejob it was to indoctrinate Handmaids the with the aid of cattle prodsand whistles;(3) a green-dressed servant-class known as Marthas; (4) women who could not or would not belong to and eitherof these groupsand who were not hangedas subversive"criminals" becameUnwomen,who were usuallygiven thejob of clearingtoxic wastes
SCIENCE-FICTION STUDIES,VOLUME16 (1989)
-itself a deathsentence.Some womenwere allowedemployment prosas titutes,butthis alternative not officiallyrecognized. was Gileadis basedon a new right-wing, In religiousfundamentalism. this regard,Atwood's choice of dedicateesfor the novel is significant.One of them is PerryMiller, the fatherof AmericanPuritanstudies and one of a The Atwood'steachersat Harvard. other,MaryWebster, represents move fromthe academicto the horriblyactual.In a 1980 essay, Atwooddescribone es how Websterof Connecticut, of her ancestors,survivedher hanging afterbeing condemnedas a witch, thanksto a tough neck. Because of the law of doublejeopardy,wherebya personcould not be executedtwice for the samecrime,Websterwas released("Witches," 331). p. The novel consistsof the tapedaccountsandrecollectionsof a 33-yearold Handmaidnamed Offred. This name-suggestive of "offered" or "afraid" (Parrinder: or "off-red" rebelliousreferenceto herredhabit) 20) (a or "off-read" the sense of misread-Lacombe: 7)-is not her real one. (in Like all of the Handmaids, real name has been erasedin favor of the her form "Of' plus the first name, possibly abbreviated, her Commander. of Her recollections,usually narrated the seven spaced sections (out of a in total of 15) all entitled "Night"(a time of relative freedom), are of an earlierera recognizably of the 1970s and '80s. She recallsher feminist that mother(now, we subsequently learn,an Unwoman)and the failed attempt she had madewith her now "disappeared" husband Luke andtheirchild to flee to Canada duringthe earlystagesof Gilead'stotalitarian regime. Offred'snumbingaccountof her presentrealityin what is apparently the walledtownof Cambridge, Massachusetts (whereHarvard Universityis closed andthe footballstadium used for executions),oftentakesthe form is of describingsuch Orwellianritualsas Testifying (chap. 13), communal prayers(chap. 15), the Ceremony(chap. 16), Birth Day (chap. 21), Prayvaganzas(chaps.33 and 34), Salvaging(chap.42), andParticicution (chap. 43). Testifyingis the Gilead equivalentof what usually happensat group therapysessions. The evening communalprayersession begins with the Commanderreading appropriatebits from the Bible-most notably:
"Behold my maid Bilhah. She shall bear upon my knees, that I may also
have children by her" (15:84), an abbreviation verse 3 of one of the of novel's epigraphs, Genesis30:1-3,whichis surelythe essentialseed of The Handmaid's Tale. The Ceremony is modelled directly on the Genesis passage.A Handmaid fuckedby a Commander she lies betweenthe is as legs andholds the handsof the Commander's Wife, in Offred'scase a onetime gospel singerwhose real name is Pam but who called herself Serena Joy. Of particular importance Birth Day, when one of the Handmaids is gives birthwith the Wife's legs once againabouther,in the presenceof the otherHandmaids. This occursin the seventhand centralof the book's 15 sections,the section entitled"BirthDay." Only "BirthDay" and "Salvaging" (Section XIV) are dignifiedas section titles. Women's Prayvaganzas
accompany groupweddings;"men'sarefor militaryvictories"(34:206).At Salvagings,the Handmaids symbolicallytakepartin the hangingof "criminals."The bodies are subsequently conveyedto the mainguarded gateway of the Wall andleft hangingthere.At Particicutions wordis, of course, (the an amalgam "participation" "execution") Handmaids encourof and the are aged, by way of catharsis, literallyteara male offender-in the instance to a described, supposedrapist-to pieces. Many of the featuresof Gilead are familiarto the readerof dystopian fiction:the lack of freedom,the constantsurveillance, routine,the failed the escape attempt(in this case by Offred'sfriend,identifiedby her realname, Moira),and an underground movement(in this case called Mayday).But the unique natureof the society that Atwood has createdleads to other, rathermore original,plot possibilities.At the centerof Offred'sstory are the acts of betrayalshe is forcedto commitby the Commander, the one on hand, and on the other,by his Wife. The Commander requiresa relationship with Offred outside of the Ceremony.Most of the time they play Scrabble(an illegal game since it promotesliteracy);but on one occasion the Commander takesher to Jezebel's,a brothelfor officerswhichincludes Moiraamongits prostitutes. the meantime,his Wife, concernedthatthe In Commandermay be sterile, sets Offred up with Nick, the chauffeur. Offred'sstoryends with the Wife's discoveryof Offred'ssecret"relationship"with her husbandand the consequentarrivalof two men in a black van who take Offred away. Presumablyshe is to be "salvaged"but the possibilityexists thatthe two men areagentsof Mayday. The success of Offred'snarrative dependslargelyon Atwood's skilled use of indirection,irony, and understatement. Information allowed to is seep throughgradually,often in a naturalistic, offhand,giveawaymanner. As one would expect of a poet, Atwood's indirection frequently takes the formof imageryand symbolism.Giventhe subjectmatter,the sexual symbolism establishedat the very beginningof the book is surely inevitable: "We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.The floor was of varnished wood, with stripesand circles paintedon it..." (1:3). As the book develops, it is the female imagery of circles and curves which predominates. Even the Wall, which might be construedas a masculinesymbol, formsan imprisoning circle. Of particular interestis the circular "hallmirror, whichbulgesoutward like an eye underpressure" (8:46), or like the swollen belly of a pregnant woman. Likewise, in the Commander'ssitting room, "over the mantel, there's an oval mirror" (14:76), the word "oval"suggestingthose viable ovaries.The braidedrug in Offred'sroomis also "oval"(2:7) andthe face of hermotherin a photograph "a closed oval"(7:37). Frequently is stressed is Offred's sense of the hallwaymirroras a typicallydystopianwatching eye: "Thereremainsa mirror,on the hall wall....I can see it as I go down the stairs,round,convex, a pier-glass,like the eye of a fish, andmyself in it
SCIENCE-FICTION STUDIES,VOLUME16 (1989)
like a distortedshadow..."(2:9); "I descendthe stairs,a brief waif in the eye of glass that hangs on the downstairswall" (14:75), makingOffreda hangingbody like those on the Wall; "In the curvedhallwaymirrorI flit past, a red shape at the edge of my own field of vision, a wraithof red smoke"(32:196);and lastly, "I see the two of us...in the brief glass eye of as the mirror we descend"(40:243).The secretpolice arecalledEyes. And, like all the Handmaids, Offred'sanklebearsa related"smalltattoo": "Four digits and an eye, a passportin reverse.It's supposedto guarantee that I will neverbe able to fade, finally,into another landscape" (12:60-61).Even the penis is described as a "delicate stalked slug's eye" (15:83). The circularmirror,then, comprehends encompassesmost of the novel's and significantthemes:viable ovaries,pregnancy,surveillance, imprisonment, hangedbodies, cyclical process (aboutwhich more later),and finally, the loss of human reality-the mirrorconveys only images of reality and rendersOffredas "a distortedshadow"(2:9), "a brief waif' (14:75), or "a wraith" (32:196).2 The preconceptions the readeraccustomedto the typical dystopian of fiction are likely to be upset by the "Historical Notes" that concludeThe Handmaid'sTale. It is usually assumedthat the authorof a dystopia is concernedwith describingthe horrorsof life if presenttrendscontinue,If This Goes On. The author may hope thathis or her fiction will serve either if as a warning, the possibilityis allowedthatwhatseems inevitablemaybe averted,or, at a later stage, as a call to rebellion.The "Historical Notes" consistof "apartial transcript of the proceedings of the Twelfth Symposium
on Gileadean Studies...which took place at the University of Denay, Nuna-
vit, on June 25, 2195" ("Notes,"p. 281). Given that the one identified memberof Denay's facultyhas the Indianname CrescentMoon it seems reasonable concludethat the university'sname derivesfrom that of the to IndianDene Nation.Nunavitmay be an Inuitplace somewhere the north in of "what was...Canada"("Notes," p. 292) or, more probably, a future revised spellingof Nunavik,Greenland. Have the NorthAmericanIndians and Inuit inheritedthe earth?What is transcribed,Professor Pieixoto's lecture, "Problemsof Authenticationin Reference to The Handmaid's Tale"("Notes,"p. 282), makes it clear thatthe Republicof Gileadis now long past. The immediate effect of the "Historical Notes"is to appraise reader the of the "fact"thathe or she has all alongbeen fictively situatedin this postGilead future,a futureperhapslike the presentof the 1980s to the extent thatfrombothperspectives Gileadappears be an almostincredible to societal extreme. At the same time the "Notes" strongly imply that Atwood cannothave intendedThe Handmaid'sTale only as the typicaldire dystopian warningor call to rebellion if she envisages Gilead either passing away naturallyin the fullness of time or being dramatically overthrown. Gilead does not correspond an Orwellian"boot stampingon a human to
face-forever" (1984, p. 390). It might,then,be asked:Is thereany pointin as penninga dystopiaif thatdystopiais explicitlypresented only transitory? In orderto arriveat what I believe to be the correct"yes" answerto this question, Atwood's dystopia must be distinguishedfrom the traditional variant whatI shall terma "Contextual of kindas a particular Dystopia," by which I meanafully Contextual Dystopia.After all, as Offredtwice notes, is "Context all"(24:136;30:180).In a review,BrianStableford shows himself to be awareof the problemwhen he labels The Handmaid'sTale "a Book of Lamentations" 97) rather thana dystopia.Unlikethe traditional (p. dystopia, Atwood is concernednot just with the precedingcontext, the historicaldevelopment-continuousor discontinuous-thatled to the establishmentof dystopia,but also with a succeedingdiscontinuouscontext, andhistorical development-unanticipated Offred'sdystopian discourse by but impliedwithoutbeing describedin the "Notes"-that led, over time or abruptly, awayfromdystopia. A Contextual Dystopiain this specific sense is rare.In fact, I know of no otherexample.The nearestparallelis perhapsJackLondon'sTheIron Heel (1906), but therethe socialist"eutopia" succeededthe dystopian that Oligarchyof the Iron Heel is clearly, in an immediatesense, continuous with ErnestEverhard's dystopian memoir.Everhard's desperate revolutionsimilaractivitieswhich, in the fullness of time, led to ary activitiesspurred the overthrow the IronHeel andto a situationwherea "eutopian" able of is to edit and annotate manuscript the long-agoexecutedEverhard. the of No such historicalsequenceis even hintedat in Offred'saccount(Maydaycan only help dissidentsescape from Gilead). (It might be wonderedwhether there are examples of what is surely a theoreticalpossibility-namely, a ContextualEutopia in the full sense of contextual. As with dystopias, instancesof eutopias[with or withoutqualifyingquotationmarks]including the presentationof an historically continuouspost-eutopiansociety seem more likely than those includingthe presentation an historically of discontinuousone.) In Atwood's case, as a result of both the essentially continuous'fore and the essentiallydiscontinuous afterhistoricalcontexts and the consequentacknowledgement one particular sense of differof SF ence-change in the course of time-The Handmaid'sTale conveys an a evenhandedness, degreeof hard-headed acceptance regarding contexthe tual, framed,and hence limitedhumancondition,a horizonof acceptance, that counteracts-some might say disastrouslydefuses-Atwood's occasionallybittersatireandjustifiedanger.It shouldbe observedat this point that the traditional dystopia(and eutopia)generallyassumes,and to some extent depends upon, a linear conceptionof time. A cyclical conception carrieswith it at least some degreeof fatalisticacceptance the writerof that traditional dystopias(or eutopias)would considerinappropriate. Atwood's vision of historicalchange in The Handmaid'sTale appearsto allow for both a series of pendulumswings and (as I have alreadyintimated relain
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tion to the hallway mirror)the effects of cyclical process; possibly the pendulum swings are subsumed or incorporated by, into, a cyclical history. titles mimesthe that It mightbe notedin this regard the sequenceof chapter cycle of night(death,freedom)andday (birth,imprisonment). A cyclical view of historymay, of course,take the formof staticrepetition or of a progressiveor regressive spiral. Atwood does not commit herself on this matter.There is no clear sense of the kind of society (or societies) thathas (or have) replacedGileadand why. However,the world of 2195 does seem more civilized than,and generallypreferable thatof to, Gilead. Pieixoto's prissy academicjokes and the laughterthey elicit from his audienceprovideevidence that sexist attitudesstill persist.The place namesDenayandNunavit,readas "deny"and"none-of-it" (Kaler:9), may to suggest thatAtwoodis pointing,with disguisedhorror, the smug blindPieixototerms ness of a society thatrefusesto recognize,in whatProfessor "theclearerlight of our own day"(Notes, p. 293), the seeds of sexism that couldlead to another Gilead.But Atwoodhereseems moreintenton lightly or resignedly satirizing human foible and vanity, and the decorum of academicdiscourse.Justas Offredbelieves regarding Gileadthattherecan be "no shadowunless there is also light" (18:99) so, in Pieixoto's world, the predominating light is not withoutshadow;it is simplythatthe propora tions have been reversed.Anythingapproaching fair, non-sexistsociety dependsupon eternalvigilance.And Pieixoto, one of the co-editorsof the ms. The Handmaid'sTale (the Chaucerian was suppliedby the other title one), does provide some helpful information. Offred's tapes were unearthed the site of what was Bangor,Maine.A non-Canadian on reader or a Canadian readerwho has forgottenthe government's "Participaction" programis informed that the term "Particicution" was "lifted from an exercise program popular sometime in the last third of the century" ("Notes," 289; Atwoodperhaps p. needs a "twentieth" beforethe "century" that eitherFrederick Waterford more likely or here). It is hypothesized R. B. Frederick Juddwas Offred'sCommander. scholarship 2195 has, The of however,failed to come up with whatis most probably Offred'sreal name in spite of the clue thather manuscript provides.At the end of Chapter1 Offred lists the names that she and her fellow traineeHandmaids would whisperfrom bed to bed: "Alma.Janine.Dolores. Moira.June"(1:4). In the course of the narrative of these names are accountedfor (22:121; all 5:26; 22:125;5:25) exceptfor June.Presumably, then,Juneis Offred'sreal name.As it happens,the GileadeanStudiesSymposium took place in June. (Are we to intuit,in termsof cyclical process,thatthe Springand Summer of Gilead,like the Summerof the post-Gileadsociety, will inevitablygive way to Fall andWinter?) course,Offred'slist of namesmay be a list of Of protectivepseudonyms.If so, Offredhas deliberately chosen for herself a name that, she remindsus, signifies love: "Love, said Aunt Lydia with distaste. Don't let me catch you at it. No mooning and June-ingaround
here,girls"(34:206). This last quotation one of severaloccasionswhereAtwooduses the is device of quoting direct speech without quotationmarks.It is generally used to signalthata conversation being recalledandreconstructed. is What is reconstructed-andmuchof Offred'snarrative to amounts reconstruction -may not be the entiretruth.Implicithereis one moreaspectof Atwood's consciousartistry. With one notableexception,thatartistry was acclaimed by all the novel's reviewers.Since the one exception was the prominent writerMaryMcCarthy and since her attackappearsto largely stem from her generic misapprehension the novel as a straightforward of dystopia,I will conclude by attempting rebutthe variouschargesthat she levels. to Her piece in TheNew YorkTimesBook Reviewentitled"Breeders, Wives and Unwomen"begins with the claim of "thin credibility"(p. 35). Atwood's extrapolationdoes not ring true. McCarthyseems not to have allowed for the fact that the future Atwood describes was surely not conceived as a direct extrapolation from our presentbut as a pendulum swing away frompresent-day feminism.Given thatintention, historical the stepsthatlead to Gileadare,I believe, plausibleenough.Atwood'sfutureis novel andnot inherently incredible. McCarthy also complainsthat Offred'sfutureaccountis writtenin a languagevirtuallyindistinguishable from our own. It is certainlytrue that languagechangeswith time and thatmany SF writers-William Gibsonis a recentexample-attempt to createa futureargot.But while a futureargot may add to the SF realism,it can also have the reverseeffect and date a work very quickly. Atwood has chosen the less risky convention of allowing today's languageto standin for a futurelanguagewhose subtle alterations simplycannotbe predicted. Atwoodis not writinggenreSF and in fact some of her linguisticinventionsare not as felicitous as those we have come to expect fromthe genreSF writer.Forexample,her "Birthmobile"(4:21) mightbe criticizedas a tawdrytouchout of Batman.However, it is morerelevantto note thatGilead(unlikethe worldof 2195) is placed in a very nearfuturesetting.Linguisticchangesin the shorttermare very minorand, in fact, Atwood's "Birthmobile" probablyderivedfrom such is contemporary real-world termsas "bookmobile" "snowmobile." or McCarthy's overall chargethat Gilead is "insufficiently imagined"and that this poet's novel "lacksimagination" as I hope my analysisof this concretely is, detailed dystopia has demonstrated,simply untrue. Nor is the "writing undistinguished" 35). The novel's short, breathlesschaptersgain in (p. power as they proceed.What might be criticizedas overwordiness ("We lived in the blankwhite spaces at the edges of print....We lived in the gaps between the stories"[10:53]) could be justified as perfectlysuited to the mode of oralnarration. style suitsthe teller. The But what of the teller's character? McCarthybelieves that Offred's character,like that of all the charactersexcept the Aunts, is weak. But
STUDIES,VOLUME16 (1989) SCIENCE-FICTION
surelyone of the primeaims of Gileadis to depriveits citizens,particularly the Handmaids,of their characters.In the circumstancesit is not just is special pleading to insist that shadowy characterization appropriately is inevitable.The pointmightalso be madethatMcCarthy here applyingto to the genre of SF a criterionmore appropriate the realistic novel. It is finally a failure to correctlyidentify Atwood's generic intent (insofaras from the text) that leads to McCarthy's that intentcan be "reconstructed" most damningcriticism.Thinkingof The Handmaid'sTale as straightfordystopian wardlyakinto Orwell's 1984 and as belongingto the traditional force believes thatAtwood's novel lacks "thedestructive genre,McCarthy it of satire," has "no satiricbite"(p. 35). But in the light of the concluding Notes"andwhatI have arguedis the novel's genericstatusas a "Historical kind of Contextual Dystopia,possiblythe firstof its kind,purely particular satirewould be quite out of place. Both men and women come destructive in for attackin The Handmaid'sTale.3But Atwood's concernis not with of the destruction either sex; it is with their mutualsurvival.After all, as Offredobserves,directlyaddressingher putativereaderor readers,"who (7:37). knowswhatthe chancesareout there,of survival,yours?"
NOTES 1. See Atwood's Survival.For a spiritedillustrationof the propositionthat all significant SF is about something real, in the sense of an enduringor relatively enduringhumanreality, see Blish, pp. 125-29. 2. For a survey of the negative role of mirrorsin Atwood's poetry and fiction before TheHandmaid'sTale, see Davey, pp. 94-98. here, it should be noted that 3. With regardto Atwood's "evenhandedness" provides a reverse companionpiece to The Handmaid's Tale. her "Freeforall" Both works posit a situation in which sexually transmitted diseases have as jeopardized the future of human reproductivesurvival. But in "Freeforall," instanced by the Toronto of 2026, a repressive societal solution has emerged which victimizes males considerablymore thanfemales.
WORKS CITED The TorontoStar, 20 Sept. 1986; rpt. in TesAtwood, Margaret."Freeforall," seracts2, ed. Phyllis Gotlieb & Douglas Barbour(Victoria, BC: Porcepic Books, 1987), pp. 130-38. . The Handmaid'sTale. Toronto:Seal Books, 1986. . Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. Toronto: House of Anansi, 1972. . "Witches," in Second Words: Selected Critical Prose (Toronto: House of Anansi, 1982), pp. 329-33.
ATWOOD'S CONTEXTUAL DYSTOPIA
Blish, James [as "William Atheling, Jr."]. "A Question of Content," in The Issue at Hand: Studies in Contemporary Magazine Science Fiction (Chicago:Advent, 1964), pp. 125-29. Davey, Frank.MargaretAtwood:A FeministPoetics. Vancouver:1984. Kaler, Anne K. "The Narratoras Female Hero in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid'sTale." Unpublishedpaperpresentedat the Ninth International March 1988. Conferenceon the Fantasticin the Arts, FortLauderdale, Lacombe, Michele. "The Writing on the Wall: AmputatedSpeech in Margaret Atwood's TheHandmaid'sTale,"WascanaReview, 21 (Fall 1986):3-20. McCarthy, Mary. "Breeders, Wives and Unwomen." The New York Times Book Review (9 Feb. 1986), pp. 1, 35. Orwell, George. 1984. With a Critical Introductionand Annotations by BernardCrick.Oxford:ClarendonPress, 1984. Parrinder,Patrick. "Making Poison," London Review of Books, 8 (20 Mar. 1986), pp. 20-22. Stableford, Brian. "Is There No Balm in Gilead? The Woeful Prophecies of The Handmaid'sTale,"Foundation,no. 39 (Spring 1987), pp. 97-100.
RESUME David Ketterer. La servante ecarlate de Margaret Atwood: une dystopie contextuelle.-Le roman de Margaret Atwood, La servante ecarlate est le meilleur roman de science-fiction qu'ait produit le Canada anglais. Plusieurs e'le'ments doivent etre souligne's:les se'riesd'e'vnementsrituels, le symbolisme du miroir ovale du couloir et le statut ge'ne'rique particulier de ce roman tout qui pourrait e^tre qualifie'de *<dystopie contextuelle)>. Cetteforme se demarque de la dystopie conventionellepar 1'interetporte aux faits historiques discontinus qui suivirentla dystopie (il est d noter que cet interet n'est pas pre'vu par le discours dystopien) et par les conse'quencesdecoulant de l'interpre'tation initial. Mary judicieusement e'quilibre'equi furent suscite'es par 1'intere^t McCarthyn'a pas su reconnaitre cette distinction ge'ne'rique ce manque est et en partie responsablede sa critique ne'gative.(DK) Abstract.-Of particular interest in MargaretAtwood's The Handmaid'sTale (1985 )-to date the best English Canadian SF novel-are the series of ritual events, the symbolism of the oval hallway mirror, and its generic status as a particular kind of what is termed a "Contextual Dystopia." This kind is distinguishedfrom the traditionaldystopia by virtue of both its consideration of the discontinuous historical circumstances (unanticipated within the dystopian discourse) which succeeded the dystopian regime, and of the judiciously balanced interpretativeconsequences of that consideration. Mary McCarthy's negative review of The Handmaid's Tale is countered partly in termsof herfailure to recognize this generic distinction.(DK)
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