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story takes place 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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Baseball and American Popular

Baseball is an integral part of American pop culture. Many Americans grow up with baseball, playing it before they can even count all the bases. It is glorified, taught, and fed to us. When we play baseball, we find a respect for the game. The respect we gain from playing it has turned the game into a tradition of American culture. It has formed itself into the business of professional baseball, namely major league baseball. Professional players have become recognized all over the world. They are sought out and admired by fans. Because of their popularity, these players have written books, endorsed commercial products, and found successful and rewarding careers by playing a game. According to Wallup, author of Baseball: An Informal History, baseball has been apart of our culture since the mid to late nineteenth century(Wallup, p16). Our great grandparents, grandparents, and parents have been brought up with it and our parents teach the sport to us.

When the notion of baseball comes to mind, a feeling of nostalgia and tradition come to me. Many of my feelings and memories originate from my childhood. I remember a beautiful summer day. My dad and I arrived at the baseball stadium to watch the game. We walked up the concrete walkway inside the stadium. The concrete walls and floors made my surroundings drab and grey. Finally, we made it to entrance into the stadium. I came out of the dark tunnels into the bright sunlight. The first thing to catch my eye was the vivid rush of color. Underneath the fluffy white clouds and their deep blue canvas, I could look down and see players in vibrant red and blue uniforms warming up for the game. The well-watered grass on the field was a brighter green than any other grass I had seen. The outfield seemed to be so perfect. It appeared that each blade had been cut by hand. The edge of the infield, where the dark, watered-down dirt met the intensely green grass was a precise and well-defined contrast. We sat down and I took in my surroundings. There were men walking up and down the stairs selling various concessions. They had peanuts, beer, soda, ice cream, popcorn, and many other tempting treats. The players soon finished their warm-ups and the crowd became frenzied with excitement. The game was about to start.

Baseball has its own traditions in America and playing the national anthem is one of them. This well-practiced act of group togetherness serves two purposes. First, it pays tribute to our country, bringing our American values to the game. Secondly, it seems to hype up the game, making the cheering crowd an active part of the contest. This enthusiasm leads to cheers when their team turns a great play or to boos and catcalls due to an umpire's bad judgement.

It hard to describe why Americans likes to watch baseball. For me, it has to do with the excitement and appreciation of the game. Since I was big enough to hold a baseball, I have been playing the game. I appreciate it because I have played it and I have experienced the struggle between pitcher and batter. Neither one hates the other, but when the pitcher takes the mound, he or she wants to blast it past his opponent. Conversely, when batters step up, their personal goal is to put a hole through the pitcher when they send the ball blazing back. It's this understanding of the emotions involved that makes watching the game enjoyable to me.

It has become a tradition to go watch a game with the family. Rooted in this custom are our culture's values of family and passing the experiences from parent to child. According to A.G. Spalding, author of America's National Game, baseball "is the exponent of American Courage, Confidence, Combativeness ...Dash, ...Determination, ...Energy, ...Enthusiasm

...Spirit, ...Vim, Vigor, and Virility"(Spalding, p.4). We see the game of baseball as an activity for family to go to the local ball park to see a son, daughter, nephew, or niece play. It pleases us to see our friends or family playing the game and enjoying it. Baseball gives us reason to get our friends ... more

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