Structuralism - Celeste Pinkney

This analysis of the “Losing her Job” passage will be through the perspective of a structuralists lens. There are several contrasting binary opposites in this passage that reveal a truth. The following are the main binary opposites that do so.

Security vs. Freedom: The first part of this passage clearly contrasts the idea of security versus freedom. The reader is informed that “Newspapers were censored and some were closed down, for security reasons they said. The roadblocks began to appear, and Identipasses”(218). Prior to this, citizens were more free and did not have such restrictions. A structuralist would see that the overall truth between these two opposites is that one cannot have both security and freedom. The government placing these restrictions on the people reveal the control and power they have, and with such barriers they no longer have the freedom they once had.

Pleasure vs. Productivity: With the progressing restrictions the government puts in place, “The Pornomarts were shut, and there were no longer any Feels on Wheels and Bun-dle Buggies circling the Square”(218). The focus of sex was shifted from being one of pleasure, to the opposite: strictly productivity. What this suggests is that sex can no longer be for pleasure, but for the one goal of reproducing. A structuralist would see that this reveals that the constraint of these pleasurable services are no longer important in society as the one goal of sex has now shifted to procreation.

Female vs. Male: There is a huge contrast between genders in this passage. The women are being forced out of work, as Offred began to realize as when she got to the corner store, “the usual woman wasn't there. Instead there was a man, a young man, he couldn't have been more than twenty”(219). Shortly after, Offred was “let go” from her job at the library, along with “eight or ten” other women. The firing of the women and the control depicted by the “two men standing there, in uniforms, with machine guns”(220) show an overall truth that the women are being classified lower than the men and the reason behind this lies in the knowledge of the government as they are restricting so many aspects of Gilead's society.

There are many other binary opposites illustrated in this passage such as authority vs non-authority, young vs old, and unemployment vs employment. All of the opposites regarding this particular passage all link back to a themed truth in The Handmaid's Tale that concerns the restriction, constraint, and control over all aspects of society in Gilead.

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