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and a gang Hans Christian Andersen

In the course Y2k and The End of The World, we've studied apocalyptic themes, eschatology, and for some, teleology. Apocalypse, which is to unveil or reveal, eschatology, which is a concept of the end, and teleology, the end or purpose to which we are drawn, are all themes used in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. The book is apocalyptic in that it revolves around dystopian ideals. Atwood creates a world in which worst-case scenarios take control and optimistic viewpoints and positive attitudes disappear. It has been said about this book that Atwood's writing echoes numerous motifs and literary devices, such as in Huxley's creation of a drug-calmed society, her characters awaiting execution seem tranquilized by pills or shots.

      Atwood's Book has also been compared to other novels like it, such as Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, and the most obvious, Orwell's 1984. These books have many things in common, including the perversion of science and technology as a major determinant of society's function and control. Like most dystopian novels, The Handmaid's Tale includes the oppression of society, mainly women in this example, the prevention of advancement of thought and intelligence, and an overwhelming sense of government involvement and interference.

      The Apocalyptic themes and situations found in Atwood's fictional city of Gilead focus around the mistreatment of all females. Women in this city, set 200 years in the future, have no rights, and get little respect. The rule by way of theocracy in Gilead also adds to the sense of regression and hopelessness in the future. The way babies are brought into the world, only through pregnant handmaids, the idea of a black market for things considered luxuries and privileges all add to the fact that society in this novel is in a desperate state of disrepair.

      Other Apocalyptic themes found in the book can be compared to sections of the bible, particularly the Old Testament. The Handmaid's Tale has many elements of social decline written into its plot. From the way women are mistreated to the way corruption and evil have infiltrated the government and army, to the way the black market plays a key role in many people's lives causing a majority of society to become criminals makes it clear how social decline plays a key role in the book. There is also a strong sense of moral decline in the book. If a person, regardless of sex, doesn't fit into the tight pattern of role expectation, he or she is eliminated, exiled from Gilead, and left for dead. Also, God plays virtually no part in this soulless, sterile theocracy. The Commander locks away the family bible and the only other worship takes place through a computerized prayer service which people order through the phone. The society of Gilead also attempts to weed out all non-whites, even though it is ultimately unsuccessful, while at the same time, it successfully prevents women from gaining any individual identity.

    As you can see, many apocalyptic themes are present in the novel. Planned pregnancy of surrogate mothers, an oppressive government, and an absence of God all contribute to the themes inherent in the story. Although some have called the novel a warning about the future, others claim it is a forecast, the fact still remains that characters in the book have less respect for the officials in society, less respect for the religions that now run the government, and less respect for themselves making the future into a terrible, terrible place.

    The Handmaid's Tale is set in the futuristic Republic of Gilead. Sometime in the future, conservative Christians take control of the United States and establish a dictatorship. Most women in Gilead are infertile after repeated exposure to pesticides, nuclear waste, or leakage from chemical weapons. The few fertile women are taken to camps and trained to be handmaidens, birth mothers for the upper class. Infertile lower-class women are sent either to clean up toxic waste or to become "Marthas", which are house servants. No women in the Republic are permitted to be openly sexual; sex is for reproduction only. The government declares this a feminist improvement on the sexual politics of today when women are seen as sex objects.

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The Outsiders


7-2-01
Summary
The Outsiders
By: S.E. Hinton

This story is about a young boy of 14 named Ponyboy. He is part of a hood group called Greasers on the east side of town, a group of lower-class teenagers who wear their hair long and greasy, wear jeans and ripped-up T-shirts, and are at odds with the rich-kid bullies known as the Socs. This group of hoods are born into rich families from the west side of town, are of a high social class, drive around in Mustangs and Corvairs, and mostly wear checkered jackets with a madras on them. One day, as Ponyboy is walking home from a movie, he is jumped by a gang of Socs. At the last minute, his buddies from his group (made up of his brothers Darry and Sodapop, who raised Ponyboy now that their parents are dead, the hardened hood Dally Winston, quiet innocent Johnny, and wise-cracking Two-Bit) scare off the socs and rescue him. The next night, Ponyboy and Johnny join Dally to go looking around for a good fight and maybe catch a movie. There they sit behind two attractive young girls and Dally attempts to obnoxiously get their attention and pick one up. After Johnny tells him to stop, Johnny and Ponyboy sit with the girls, Cherry and Marcia, and Ponyboy and Cherry discover to their mutual surprise that they have a great deal in common. Two-bit appears, and the three greasers walk the Socs girls back to Two-Bits house so that he can drive them home.  On the way, they run into Bob and Randy, the girls drunken boyfriends and the socs that beat up Johnny a couple years ago, and the girls agree to leave with them in order to prevent a fight between the two gangs. On his way home Ponyboy takes a stop by the vacant lot with Johnny and accidentally drifts off. When he wakes up and goes home his brother Darry angrily lectures him on what could have happened and slaps him. Then he runs out the door, finds Johnny, and goes to the park to get away from things. There, however, the two young greasers run into Randy and Bob, with a few of their Soc friends. One of them holds Ponyboys head under an ice cold fountain, and Ponyboy blacks out. When he comes to, he is lying on the ground next to Johnny. The bloody corps of Bob is next to them. Johnny explained how he had to knife Bob to save him. Terrified and confused, the two friends hurry to find Dally, the one person they think can help them. Dally sends them with a gun and some money to an abandoned church near Windrixville on a train, where they hide out for a week. They cut their hair so that they wont fit their description in the paper. After a week, dally comes to check on them, and says that because of Bobs death, the disputes between the socs and the greasers have become worse then ever. He also told them that rumble is going to be held to settle the matters once and for all. Cherry feels responsible for the whole problem and acted as a spy for the greasers for updates and info on the socs. Johnny surprises Dally by declaring his intention to go back to turn himself in. Dally drives them back, but as they leave, the notice that the church has caught on fire and had several schoolchildren trapped inside. Ponyboy and Johnny, feeling responsible for the event rush inside the church to save the children. Just as they get the last child through a window, the roof caves in and Ponyboy jumps out with fire on his back and blacks out again, leaving Johnny trapped inside. This time when Ponyboy regains consciousness he finds himself inside of an ambulance. When he reaches the hospital he is told Johnny was hit by a support beam that fell in the church and that Dally went in to save him and got his arm burnt. Johnny had broken his back and is in critical condition. Darry and Sodapop hear the news and arrived at the hospital to get Ponyboy and tell ... more

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