The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale Theme of Children
Children are precious, rare commodities in the world of The Handmaid's Tale. The production of children has become the Republic of Gilead's overarching goal, governing nearly every aspect of life. Yet while the goal of creating the next generation is overwhelming and seemingly necessary, traditional ideas about parenting and family are turned inside out. Birth mothers must produce babies or they essentially get a death sentence, but they don't get to keep their children. Chances for fertility are parceled out to men (and their "households") according to how much power or status they have.
Questions About Children
- Why do you think the narrator didn't get pregnant at her first two Handmaid postings?
- What do you think really happened to the narrator's daughter?
- Is there any other way to handle the growing problem of not enough children being born? Are there ways in which the Republic of Gilead's plan makes any kind of sense?
- Why do you think people in this novel are so determined to continue having children?
- If the narrator ends up pregnant by Nick, will this be enough to save her?
Chew on This
Ultimately, the Republic of Gilead's whole focus on Handmaids as vessels for childbearing is fruitless, because it undermines ideas of parenting and creating real families.