Tag Archives: dystopia

“After Dark” Follow Up: What is the genre of this novel?

After our intense class discussion of After Dark, I decided to come back and do an in-depth analysis of the novel. This novel by far is the most unique one we have read all semester. The fact that everything occurs within one night amazed me. As it was brought to my attention in class by Thomas, The Tempest also took place in a day’s span. But what intrigued me more with this novel is it took place within a couple of hours of night. The novel’s genre is one I found most difficult to decipher. Is it science fiction, a dystopia, speculative fiction? What genre would actually fit for this novel? To me, it appears as if the novel transcends into different genres. Science fiction, an obvious one, is seen throughout the course of nightfall and all the “magic” that takes place. For example, Eri getting sucked into the television and trapped in the room. I also found this to be connected to speculative fiction, as the two genres do not differ much. The dystopia can be seen in general with the “After Dark” part of the novel. When nighttime falls, a whole new world begins. We see things that we do not see occur during the daytime and everything appears as a blur. So what genre is truly suitable for this novel? I see so many different possible genres as the novel unfolds and transcends genre throughout the occurrence of nighttime. This is why I feel the novel is the most unique one we have read. To label it what one genre seems nearly impossible and I like how it challenges me to think of one that is suitable for it.

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What Makes Us Free?

This passage is important because it reveals a basic foundation of the new society in which Offred lives: individual freedoms, such as freedom of speech, must be sacrificed in order to create a “safer” society that does not contain many of the uncertainties of the previous society. Everyone has an assigned place within Gilead – they are Handmaids or Marthas or Wives or Angels or one of the many other positions created and maintained by the society. There is not the uncertainty of being unemployed or of finding one’s calling in life. They are free from fear of attacks that are common in today’s society: rape, mugging, random acts of violence, etc. As Offred says in reference to having to go shopping in twos for “protection”: “the notion is absurd: we are well protected already. The truth is that she is my spy, as I am hers.” (Atwood 19). The fear of being out alone, left over from life in the previous society, is being played in order to disguise the fact that the women are not trusted on their own. These freedoms they have, the “freedom from”, come at the expense of the “freedom to”, of their natural human rights and others we take for granted. If the women were not spied upon by each other, they might try to run away, to seek out those freedoms they are denied. This passage opens up the book by prompting the reader to examine the differences in the freedoms that Gilead offers and the freedoms it has taken away, and to consider which is more important to have – freedom to or freedom from.

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