Do You Believe Everything You Read?
In this passage, Offred is detailing a series of events that occurred moments before she lost her job. The narrator recounts this story using binary opposites which help the reader to question what is not being said. The most prominent binary opposites that help the reader to deconstruct this text include security vs. endangerment and power vs. subservience.
Security vs. Endangerment
In the beginning of Offred’s flashback, she talks about how there were lots of new so-called safety measures being imposed throughout the state including the implementation of roadblocks and Indentipasses. She mentions how “you couldn’t be too careful” as there had been “too many disappearances”. Consequently, the government was able to justify all of their actions under the pretext of “security reasons” and thus began to censor and close down newspapers.
While a structuralist would say that this pre-Gilead society is endangered from an external force and in need of security (as determined by the majority), that may not be entirely true. A deconstructuralist must wonder why it is no longer safe and what exactly prompted all of these disappearances. Could the Gilead government be responsible for this new danger? Did they create this danger so that they would have a pretext to maintain supreme control over the people? Is that why they felt the need to censor the newspapers? Why is it no longer safe? Or is the government actually trying to protect the people by imposing safety measures? These are all questions that are not explicitly answered in the text and therefore make the reader wonder what exactly happened that led to the creation of this totalitarian state.
Power vs. Subservience
In this passage, Offred reveals the conversation that she had with her boss on the day she was fired. Offred was told that she could not “work here anymore” because “it’s the law”. She even says that they were fired like “wild animals”. Offred and her colleagues thus felt obliged to leave the library even though they did not fully understand what was happening as they had been dehumanized.
From a structuralist perspective, the majority would recognize the authority of the government and not question the laws that are being passed. Comparatively, a deconstructuralist would question everything about the origin, motives, and values of this totalitarian government. Why did Offred lose her job? Why is it “the law”? Who made it “the law”? Why didn’t Offred’s boss fight harder to keep his female employees? Did her boss want them fired? Why are men more valued in society? Why did people blindly follow orders from this government? Why didn’t the women try to revolt? Could the women have actually been fired for a justified reason? These are all unanswered questions in this passage that deconstructuralists would ask themselves.
In conclusion, from a deconstructuralist perspective, the reader really begins to question what big event prompted all of the security changes and how the totalitarian Gilead government was formed. All of these questions ultimately call into question the reliability of the narrator and thus make the reader wonder how much of this entire story is actually true.