Post-Modernism Victoire Kpade

Post-modernism is a movement of literature which rejects modernism. This entire passage is full of post-modernist imagery using the techniques of reader-response, black humour, intertextuality and metafiction.

Reader response:
Since post-modernism consists of rejecting modern literature techniques, the reader is forced to respond to it either positively or negatively because the author is writing in a way that is not familiar to them.

"This doesn't look like a face but like an unknown vegetable, a mangled bulb or tuber, something that's grown wrong... he smells of **** and vomit" (261). This passage completely dehumanizes a man, a human being. While reading this quote, the reader is left feeling disgusted and uncomfortable. Many would even make a face or frown while reading about someone's face looking like something that's gone wrong. The reader cannot actually like the protagonist because she is turning into an animal. Her bestiality is coming out with her need to survive in Gilead but as sensible readers, we cannot accept that and find her and the other Handmaids repulsive during the particicution.

" "I saw what you did," I say to her. Now I'm beginning to feel again: shock, outrage, nausea. Barbarism" (263). Even when Offred seems to have regained her humanity after the particicution, the reader is not able to easily get over her previous inhumane words.

Black humour: Humour that makes light of serious topics. Black humour and irony are central aspects of post-modernism.

"Her voice trembles with rage, and a kind of triumph" (261). This quote is ironic and very controversial because rape is a very sensitive topic and in this case Aunt Lydia is proud to say that the man had raped one of the handmaids. She finds so much pleasure in the pain that he is about to feel that it is as if she looks forward to men raping handmaids just so more particicutions can happen.

Intertextuality: Individual works are not isolated creations; the author makes a link between the novel and another historical text.

"The penalty for rape, as you know, is death. Deuteronomy 22: 23-29" (261). The author mentions a part of the Old Testament where they talk about punishments for rape. Her parallel to a biblical text is a frequent technique used in post-modernism works. However Margaret Atwood uses the Old Testament where we find the covenant of law instead of the New Testament where we find the grace that has come with the birth of Jesus Christ. She does so because Gilead is a fairly recent new community with a very strict set of laws and if they are not respected the penalty is death.

Metafiction: Writing about writing. Used to undermine the author's authority.

"I stared at him, with revulsion. He looks drunk. He looks like a drunk that's been in a fight. Why have they brought a drunk here?" (261). The small broken fragments and lots of pauses in the writing show Offred's train of thought. She is unsure and hesitant.
This passage and this entire novel consists of metafiction since Offred is telling her story. She is recording her voice to reveal the dark reality that she lived in. However we only find out that her thoughts are a recording at the end of the novel.



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