NARRATIVE STYLE. Nellie WHAT IS THE NARRATIVE STYLE OF THE NOVEL “THE HANDMAID’S TALE”? • The novel is written in a first-person narrative style. • We know it is a first person narrative because of the use of words such as “I” and “we.” • The first line of the novel sets the story up to be a first-person narrative as it begins “We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.” The use of past tense also allows the reader to feel as though they are inside someone else’s mind and their memories. • First person narratives allow for the reader to question what they are being told as it is only told from a single person’s perspective and that person may not always know what is going on. In “The Handmaid’s Tale” at the end of the book when Offred is getting into the black van she says “whether this is my end or a new beginning I have no way of knowing.” allowing for the end of the book to be made up by the reader and the possibilities to be infinite. PURPOSE OF NARRATIVE STLYE • The purpose of making the novel a first-person narrative is to drip feed the reader information. It allows the audience to understand how the world around them feels. This is particularly important for “The Handmaid’s Tale” as it is dystopian literature and takes the audience out of the world they know and into one which is filled with new rules and social values. Lines such as “even the names of shops were too much of a temptation for us. Now places are known by their signs alone” allow the reader to understand the strictness and the rules of this new world. • By using Offred's mind to enter the world the reader understands the world from a personal perspective. Offred doesn’t know everything about her world either so as the novel progresses the reader learns the truth about her life as she does. EFFECT OF NARRATIVE STYLE • The effect of this novel being told from Offred’s perspective is that the reader identifies with her as she is the sole point of information. By adding in flashbacks of Offred old life the effect is that the reader understands Offred more and brings a reality to her character as she lived, before what would now be considered as a normal life. “I remember the rules that were never spelt out but that every woman knew: don’t open the door to strangers, even if he says he’s police.” Lines like these remind the reader that this world could be real and that the life of Offred is entirely possible. The reader has a forced connection as they are inside Offred’s mind as she lives her life. • The other effect is one of suspense as the audience do not have all the information about the novel handed to them, they need to wait and follow the story to understand all of Offred’s world. EFFECTIVENESS • Margret Attwood has written in this style in an effective way. By writing in a first -person narrative she has left a lot of the story to be imagined by the reader. By leaving room in Offred’s character Attwood leaves room for the reader to imbue her with some of their own characteristics. • However I found the end of the book where the reader is to make up their own decision to be rather lazy as a writer as it felt like an unfinished novel. The final line leaves the reader wanting more by saying “so I step up into the darkness within; or else the light.” I almost feel as though there should have been a sequel to the novel which allowed the reader to follow the rest of her life. • If the novel wasn’t written from a first-person perspective I feel as thought he story could have been boring, however from Offred’s perspective the world is given depth as the reader sees her life before and identify with her.