The Handmaid's Tale of Food as a Control Mechanism

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Food traditionally represents comfort, security, and family. We recall the traditional concept of comfort food and the large family dinners in Norman Rockwell 's piece Freedom from Want. However, for many, food is also a serious, and potentially damaging, method of control. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are classic examples of psychological syndromes, related to control, that express themselves with eating disorders. Prisoners of war are denied food as the most basic method of torture and control. Like all humans, Offred, the main character of Margaret Atwood 's Handmaid 's Tale, finds that food is a central and important feature of life. Food has many meanings in the novel, nourishment, fertility, and luxury; however, this paper will…show more content…
It is very simple and extremely passive. The limitation of free will using tokens is expounded upon when Offred realizes that Milk and Honey has oranges, a rare luxury. Offred is longing for one of these fruits yet cannot have it because she doesn 't have a token for it (25). Looking to the next level, we see that the limited supply of oranges is also related to control. Partially explained by southern rebels attacking railroads, it seems that shortages are either purposely instituted to attest to governmental control or, they are the result of aggressive power struggles in other parts of the country. In both cases, power is at play. Offred, even at this nescient period of Giladean control, as picked up on food 's power and her reaction to the oranges represents this molding of her mind. The next day, Offred tells Rita, the cook of her household, about the oranges at Milk and Honey The interchange that ensues is a traditional grapple with power. ìI hold out this idea like an offering. I wish to ingratiate myself,î Offred indicates to the reader ñ showing that she sees this bit of information about food as a tool, to be manipulated. She adds, yesterday she [Rita] was too grumpy. We see that it is not simple desire for the oranges driving this conversation. Rita 's response: Rita grunts & she 'll think about it, the grunt says, in her own sweet time. Offred seems confident that Rita feels similarly excited about the oranges but is determined to

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