Skip to content

OFF-red or OF-Fred . . . I say both.

2009 March 18
by Alexandra Funk

So initially, the first time I read Handmaid’s tale, for the first couple chapters I though her name was Off-red instead of Of-fred. I kept thinking Atwood named her Off-red to show that the protagonist didn’t adhere to the new constraints placed on her in Gilead, that really she was more than the color and position assigned to her. Obviously once another handmaid was introduced I had an ah-ha moment of embarrassing clarity, but I still can’t help but like my original reading of her name.

This is one of the things I was thinking about in class today when we were discussing clothing.

One Response
  1. Anne permalink*
    March 18, 2009

    I very much like the notion of keeping both soundings/readings in play. Our protagonist is certainly “off-red.” And of course the add’l turn of the screw here (as this passage from p. 84 makes clear) is that her name isn’t actually Offred:

    I have another name, which nobody uses now because it’s forbidden. I tell myself it doesn’t matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter. I keep the knowledge of this name like something hidden, some treasure I’ll come back to dig up, one day. I think of this name as buried. This name has an aura around it, like an amulet, some charm that’s survived from an unimaginably distant past. I lie in my single bed at night, with my eyes, closed, the name floats there behind my eyes, not quite within reach, shining in the dark.

    Don’t you wonder what her REAL NAME IS?

Comments are closed.