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Gilead is visited by a group of Japanese tourists who are looking at the people there much as we would look at those in the Middle East, especially the women in burqas. One tourist asks the Gilead women if they are happy. They cannot answer truthfully.
This scene serves to show the complete change in culture in the United States and Canada. The people of Gilead live repressed lives in fear of government retaliation. By using the Japanese tourist, Atwood reminds us that the entire world has not become this dystopia, but that the others are powerless to help. They remain ignorant of the atrocities that are occurring in this new land.
We understand if change is to occur, it will have to come from within. The outside world is not aware of the plights of the people of Gilead.
please don't compare to the middle EastErn women as 'unhappy' any one can be unhappy. The burqa doesnt define the women not make her unhappy. what makes a women of Middle eastern heritage such as myself unhappy is the narrow minded veiws of individual duals who Believe women who cover are unhappy. The only oppression I get from wearing the burqa is the negative torment from people who are ignorant to other cultures. I cover for myself not for society
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