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On June 10 there is a cryptic entry: “Finished editing but there is no journal commentary on these by me.On November 16 I find another writerly whine: “I feel sucked hollow.” To which I added: “But functional.” The book came out in the UK in February of 1986, and in the United States at the same time.
I chronicle the finding of puffballs, always a source of glee; dinner parties, with lists of those who attended and what was cooked; illnesses, my own and those of others; and the deaths of friends. There are page counts; I had a habit of writing down the pages completed as a way of urging myself on.
But there are no reflections at all about the actual composition or subject matter of the book itself.
In retrospect, and in view of 21st-century technologies available for spywork and social control, these seem a little too easy.
Surely the Gilead command would have moved to eliminate the Quakers, as their 17th-century Puritan forebears had done.
The deep foundation of the United States—so went my thinking—was not the comparatively recent 18th-century Enlightenment structures of the Republic, with their talk of equality and their separation of Church and State, but the heavy-handed theocracy of 17th-century Puritan New England—with its marked bias against women—which would need only the opportunity of a period of social chaos to reassert itself.
Like the original theocracy, this one would select a few passages from the Bible to justify its actions, and it would lean heavily towards the Old Testament, not towards the New.
These are questions with which human beings have busied themselves for a long time.
There would be resistance to such a regime, and an underground, and even an underground railroad.
In a feminist dystopia pure and simple, all of the men would have greater rights than all of the women.
It would be two-layered in structure: top layer men, bottom layer women.