How do these final chapters create a sense (or not) of narrative denouement? What is the function, in particular, of the particicution (292-295) in the narrative? Examine the significance of the responses of Janine and Offred to this event.
- The fact that anyone can be Salvaged (including Commander’s Wives) implies that nobody is safe – everyone must conform to the rules (even though this is rather hypocritical; Commanders can go to a brothel Jezebels even though they are married – adultery and prostitution are forbidden, but if you are powerful enough, this doesn’t apply).
- Even the word ‘Salvagings’ is a reference to saving or rescuing people – suggesting that Gilead is absolving its citizens of their sins and acting as justification for their actions.
- Jeanine is revealed to be broken by the regime – a clump of blond hair in her hand, smiling, blood on her face. She has lost all sense of who she is/reality – ‘Hi how are you doing?’. The motif of the double can be seen in Jeanine; what could have become of Offred had she not held onto her sanity.
- Offred also seems to be unravelling; describing her hunger, her lust. She has seen lots of death in horrific ways (the hangings and the tearing apart of the man), and she wants to feel alive. Vitality. She is utterly disturbed by the particicution, wants to keep hold of her identity (and she can feel it slipping).
- Neologism of participation and execution; having citizens participate in the extrajudicial killings, they become perpetrators (part of the regime itself).
- Regime brings out the anger/monstrosity erases the sense of self – people are in disbelief of themselves and their actions, questioning what the regime has done to them/turned them into, thus also putting blame on themselves. If citizens are guilty, it takes some responsibility off of the regime itself – they are part of the regime.
- Gives a sense of control to the citizens; the ultimate power (to be in control of someone else’s life). An outlet for frustration, but also suggests to them that the regime is just acting on their behalf. ‘Gilead is within you’.
- It is also an opportunity for the regime to see who participate less (a suggestion of disloyalty; Ofglen kills herself the next day to avoid arrest).
In Chapter 46, Offred states: “I consider these things idly. Each one of them seems the same size as all the others. Not one seems preferable. Fatigue is here, in my body, in my legs and eyes. That is what gets you in the end. Faith is only a word, embroidered.” What does this suggest about Offred’s state of mind at this point?
- At this point, she has revealed herself to the new Ofglen and is waiting to be taken away. She has lost the will to keep fighting, just succumbed to her fate, whatever it may be. She doesn’t even care enough to commit suicide