Read Chapter 13 (pp 81-85 in some editions) about Janine in The Rachel & Leah Centre, Chapter 15 with The Commander and Chapter 16 describing The Ceremony, in detail.
These chapters describe the regime’s theocratic ideology. What beliefs, values and attitudes are central to this ideology?
- The Testifying is sort of like group confession – and confessing sins is in confidence, also about being absolved. An unburdening – Atwood subverts this, it becomes a victim-blaming activity. Men are predatorial creatures who can’t control themselves – but if women were raped (pre-Gilead) it was their fault. (In the particicution it’s different; a rapist can be put to death for defiling a Handmaid).
- The collective condemnation of Jeanine (Crybaby, Crybaby, Crybaby) – and then having everyone forgive her is a powerful psychological tool. Gilead is curing/purifying your sins (link to Puritanism) – works well in their rhetoric: we are helping you to see what you did, to understand how it is wrong.
- In Chapter 15, the Commander has to read sections of the Old Testament to the household – Offred describes how she heard it every breakfast, even songs with “Blessed be..”
In what ways is this ideology central to the control and suppression of both the individual and the masses in Gilead?
- The public denouncements and victim-blaming Testifying justifies the totalitarian state of Gilead; they are helping people