The Handmaid's Tale Key Quotes: Identity

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  • Created by: mhannah
  • Created on: 20-02-18 19:14
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  • The Handmaid's Tale Key Quotes: Identity
  • "We learned to lip-read, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other's mouths."
    • Chapter 1. The narrator and her peers are forbidden from speaking or even using their real names. Despite that, they find ways to subvert these rules and convey their names, so that they manage at least to preserve this important part of their identities.
  • [about her new walking partner] "It isn't the sort of thing you ask questions about, because the answers are not usually answers you want to know. Anyway there wouldn't be an answer."
    • Chapter 4. There's a problem of the disconnect between names and people in this society. These women's personalities almost literally don't matter, because they're just replacing each other
  • [The bed sheet] "intersects me so the doctor will never see my face. He deals with a torso only."
    • Chapter 11. Here the narrator's body and mind are divided by a sheet that separates her physical body, the site of potential pregnancy, and her head, where her intellectual self resides. While the narrator is treated as a body that's separate from her self much of the time, here that separation is literalized.
  • "My self is a thing I must now compose, as one composes a speech. What I must present is a made thing, not something born."
    • Chapter 12. Offred can't behave naturally or impulsively; she has to constantly play a role.
  • "I have another name, which nobody uses now because it's forbidden. I tell myself it doesn't matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others."
    • Chapter 14. Offred tries to distance herself from the new name society has given her. When people are kept from using their real names, they become lesser versions of themselves and start to lose hold of their individuality and uniqueness.
  • "I can feel it coming, a betrayal of myself. I don't want him to know too much."
    • Chapter 29.  The simplest exchanges can reveal portions of identity.she desires to be known and recognized for herself again, she also has to acknowledge the danger inherent in that kind of action
  • "I have been obliterated for her. I am only a shadow now."
    • Chapter 35. Offred was robbed of her identity as a mother when her child was taken away. This is a theft of her maternal identity, when she realizes her daughter no longer remembers her.
  • "I tell him my real name, and feel that therefore I am known."
    • Chapter 41. Offred explicitly connects the power of her "real name" with being known and understood.

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