Posts tagged with "atwood" - Faerye Net 2006-08-28T15:15:05+00:00 Felicity Shoulders A question of names 2006-08-28T15:15:05+00:00 2008-06-08T13:30:02+00:00 <p>I am in the midst of writing a response/commentary to Margaret Atwood&#8217;s <em>The Handmaid&#8217;s Tale</em>, a dystopia based on Fundamentalism&#8217;s grab for reproductive control of women. And I continuously run into one stylistic question: <b>what do I call the protagonist?</b></p> <p>So far, I am using, well, &#8220;the protagonist,&#8221; but it is cumbersome. The issue is that her &#8216;name&#8217; in the novel, &#8220;Offred,&#8221; is not her name. It&#8217;s a possessive title indicating she is the property of Fred (and which applies to her only so long as she is assigned to him.) By using this name, I feel I would be somehow complicit, legitimizing the protagonist&#8217;s reproductive slavery. (Yes, I know she&#8217;s fictional, but I am an English major. Words have power and I have ethical qualms about my treatment of fictional characters.)</p><p>She has a name, this fictional woman, but it is never stated. A good guess is possible from a close reading, but it&#8217;s hardly clear communication to use the possible answer to a riddle as a fact. So, I struggle on with &#8220;the protagonist,&#8221; using &#8220;Offred&#8221; only in scare-quotes, and suspecting that this quandary was <em>precisely</em> Atwood&#8217;s intention.</p>