The Handmaid's Tale

Issues of Storytelling in the novel.

How is the Handmaid's Tale a novel about the writing process? What issues of storytelling does Offred raise in the tale, and how does she resolve or sidestep those issues? I know some of them are obvious, but I just wanted an official answer.

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The idea of storytelling is woven throughout Offred's tale. She explains that everything is a re-interpretation of something else; nothing is an exact description of the truth. She considers possible themes for her story, pointing out that she has attempted to improve the tone of her story by adding in things like "flowers". She apologizes for the presence of so much violence and pain. As the historical notes point out, Offred's narrative is quite dissimilar from a straightforward historical account. She talks about different things, asks different questions, and provides different answers.

The structure of "The Handmaid's Tale," is characterized by different types of storytelling. Everything from Offred's use of the tape recorder to flashbacks, intertwining the past and the present, and using fiction as a passtime for enjoyment find their way onto the pages of the novel. Many of the stories come from nothing more than Offred's imagination...... things she believes or wants to believe. Offred sidesteps the things that hurt or confuse her by making things up and seeing them in a different way.


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