Deconstructionsim - Phil Schwarz

Sexual Relations
At the beginning of the passage, Offred originally believes that the Commander has called her to his forbidden room for sexual favours. Offred firmly claims that, although she will go through with the deed, she will not leave without getting anything in return. This reinforces the manner in which the novel refers to sex, as, in Gilead, it is but a business transaction, an exchange of goods and services, without any emotion whatsoever. Offred paints the Commander’s expression as being “sheepish,” which was “the way men used to look once,” due to “how appealing women once found it.” The narrator continues by saying that, “The young ones don’t know these tricks. They’ve never had to use them.” When in search for sex, said ‘young ones’ are illustrated as not having to go to great lengths so as to acquire such a service ­– they need not use the persuasive methods of their ancestors, such as romance and courtship. The impersonality of the matter and the lack of emotions allow for the reader to notice how the act has since lost its meaning as an intimate relation between people; this comment is applicable to both Gilead in the novel and in the readers’ reality as well.

Offred later learns that sex is not what her Commander wishes of her, save a game of Scrabble. After Offred and the Commander finish their games of Scrabble, he tells Offred that it was time for her to “go home.” In reality, the Commander instructs Offred to go to her room and asks if she will be “all right, as if the stairway is a dark street.” Depicted as being unsafe and dangerous, the house in which she lives is transformed into an obstacle course where Offred must avoid any stirring creatures. The lack of the narrator’s memory of her true home suggests that she no longer has a home. With the Commander implying that her room, in such an uneasy, unstable household, is her home, the idea of Offred’s enslavement by the Commander and overall degrading condition becomes more evident.

Nearing the end of the passage, Offred states that her thoughts about killing the Commander and their kiss were but mere “reconstructions.” In this sense, these are alternatives to what truly occurred as the narrator looks back at the events in her life. The reader does not know to what extent her story was altered, leaving the reader to speculate what truly happened. This resonates with how Offred herself explains the society in which she lives as being secretive in their actions as they manipulate and control the people; by extension, there are individuals in today’s society who believe that their governments are behaving similarly as well.

The Power of Language
Due to Offred's lack of exposure to the written word, by means ofgovernment's prohibition on reading for women, Offred istruly enthralled by being given an opportunity to play Scrabble. The narrator first describes the action as forbidden, dangerous, indecent, yet desirable. Offred is delighted and forms numerous words, all seeming to be of a natural genre: larynx and limp, pertaining to the human body, quince and gorge, pertaining to environment, zygote, pertaining to biology, and valence, perhaps pertaining to the exterior electrons of an atom. Since 1450 and the invention of the Gutenberg Press, the spread of ideas and philosophies has exponentially increased. The government of Gilead fears the danger of the mind of woman; the threat it poses to the government is evident and very real.

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