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Teil A

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Leseverstehen und Schreiben integriert

1.
Describe everyday life in Consilience as well as Charmaine’s attitudes and feelings.
2.
Analyse how Charmaine’s character is presented by means of narrative techniques and language.
Choose one of the following tasks:
3.1
Comment on the statement “And it is working, because look: safe streets, no homelessness, jobs for all!” (l. 10). Refer to the extract and work done in class on visions of the future.
OR

3.2
Your school is hosting an international literature festival. Its topic is Visions of the Future. Students are supposed to contribute a text by a contemporary writer. You have chosen the extract from Atwood’s novel. Write a speech script explaining your choice.
#dystopia#utopia
Material 1
$\;$

Margaret Atwood
The Heart Goes Last

The novel is set in the near future. Its protagonists Charmaine and her husband Stan participate in the Positron Project in the town of Consilience. As part of the project they have to spend one month living and working in the city’s prison. Today is the first day outside the prison and Charmaine is hoping for a message from her lover Max.
[Charmaine] hurries back to the lot, and sure enough there’s a small envelope tucked in under the scooter seat. She palms it, fishtails out of the lot, makes it around the corner to a residential street, parks.
They don’t use their Consilience-issue cellphones to arrange these meetings: it’s too risky, because you never know what the central IT people are tracking. The whole town is under a bell jar: communications can
5
be exchanged inside it, but no words get in or out except through approved gateways. No whines, no complaints, no tattling, no whistle-blowing. The overall message must be tightly controlled: the outside world must be assured that the Consilience/ Positron twin city project is working.
And it is working, because look: safe streets, no homelessness, jobs for all! Though there were some bumps along the way, and those bumps had to be flattened out. But right now Charmaine doesn’t intend to dwell on those discouraging bumps, or
10
on the nature of the flattening.
She unfolds the paper, reads the address. She’ll dispose of the note by burning it, though not out here in the open: a woman on a scooter setting fire to something might attract notice. There aren’t any black cars in view, but it’s rumoured that Surveillance can see around corners.
[…]
15
Every month it’s a new address: better that way. Luckily there are a lot of vacant houses, left over from when the industries were failing and the lenders were foreclosing, and from that later time when so many houses were standing empty because no one wanted to buy them. Max is a member of the Consilience Dwellings Reclamation Team when he’s not living in his prison cell at Positron. The Reclamation Team are the ones who inspect the houses, then tag them either for the wrecking ball and levelling for parkland and
20
community gardens, or else for renovation, so he’s in a position to know which ones are suitable.
Max tries to choose the kind of interior decoration Charmaine prefers: she likes pretty wallpaper, with rosebuds or daisies. […]
She loved Stan because she liked solid ground under her feet, non-reflective surfaces, movies with neat endings. Closure, they called it. She’d opted for Chief Medications Administrator at Positron Prison when it
25
was offered to her because it involved shelves and inventories, and everything in its place.
Or that’s all she thought it would be; but there are depths, as it turns out. There are other duties not mentioned to her at first, there’s a certain amount of untidiness, there’s navigation to be done. She’s getting proficient at it. And it turns out she’s not as dedicated to tidiness as she used to think.
It was sloppy to have left that note[1] under the refrigerator. And that lipstick kiss was so tawdry. She keeps
30
the lipstick in her locker; she’s only ever used it on that one note. Stan would never put up with her wearing a garish hue like that – Purple Passion is its name, such bad taste.
Which is why she bought it: that’s how she thinks of her feelings toward Max. Purple. Passionate. Garish. And, yes, bad taste. To a man like that, for whom you have feelings like that, you can say all sorts of things, I’m starved for you being the mildest of them. Words she would never have used, before.
Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last, New York: Penguin Random House 2015, S. 51 – 54

Annotations
[1] that note: here: a note declaring Charmaine’s love for Max sealed with a lipstick kiss
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Leseverstehen und Schreiben integriert

$\blacktriangleright$  1. Describe life in Consilience as well as Charmaine's attitude and feelings
  • life in Consilience is rather restricted, people have to use special Consilience-issued phones that are being tracked, communication is only possible inside of Consilience, nothing gets in or out of the city
  • there are safe streets, no homelessness, jobs for all
  • institution called Surveillance that obviously observes and reports everything that happens in the town
  • there are a lot of vacant houses in town (due do failing industries or foreclosing lenders)
  • Charmaine and her husband Stan had to work and live in the towns prison for a month, Charmaine has a lover
  • she is somehow scared that someone might find out about her affair with Max and tries to make sure that no one suspects something
  • however, she seems pretty composed and calm despite her situation
  • seems shallow, since her lover Max chooses houses where they can meet that Charmaine would like (with pretty wallpapers, nice interior decoration)
  • married Stan because he was down-to-earth and predictable, became Chief Medications Administrator because she liked tidiness
  • however, Charmaine noticed that things are not as she was told they would be: there is untidiness and navigation needs to be done $\rightarrow$ came to like those downsides
  • Charmaine thinks of herself as sloppy, having left the note for Max under the fridge
  • Max brings out feelings in her that she never had before including some kind of sexual emancipation $\rightarrow$ Charmaine would have never used words like "I am starved for you" before
  • Max makes her find her true self apparently
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Analyse presentation of Charmaine's character
In General:
  • 3rd person limited point of view
    $\rightarrow$ the story is told through the eyes of Charmaine, the reader knows her and her surroundings, gets closer information on her husband Stand and her lover Max, but nothing more
  • contrast between Charmaine's former or imagined life and her life now
    $\rightarrow$ used to love Stand due to his predictability and tidiness that she has also seen in herself, yet she found her true self when meeting Max
  • written in present tense
    $\rightarrow$ except for when she refers to her love to Stan: "She loved Stan"
    $\rightarrow$ marks her finding her true self - was only with Stan because she thought it was safe
How is Charmaine's character presented through language?
  • metaphor: "the whole town is under a bell jar" (l. 4)
    $\rightarrow$ Charmaine seems to disagree with the town's concept of keeping communication within
    $\rightarrow$ feels that the same town is like a prison
  • enumeration: "no whines, no complaints, no tattling, no whistle-blowing" (ll. 5f.)
    $\rightarrow$ Charmaine uses negatively connoted words of communication
    $\rightarrow$ town doesn't want outside world to know about the apparent bad things going on within it - Charmaine knows that and does not approve of it, questions concept of town
  • irony: "(…) because look: safe streets, no homelessness, jobs for all! " (l. 8)
    $\rightarrow$ although the town provides its inhabitants with jobs and safe streets, Charmaine looks behind the curtains and sees that although there are jobs and safe streets, there is a prize to pay if one wants to live there (surveillance, going to prison for a month)
  • euphemism: "discouraging bumps" (l. 10)
    $\rightarrow$ bumps on the road had to be flattened out - bumps/flaws in humans had to be flattened out as well
    $\rightarrow$ no individualism is left, conformism rules
  • metaphor: "tag them either for the wrecking ball and levelling for parkland and community gardens" (ll. 19-20)
    $\rightarrow$ houses are intentionally destroyed in order to make something "better" out of them, to make them fitting the surroundings and serving the community
    $\rightarrow$ houses stand for the individuals who were transformede into conformists
  • symbol: "wallpaper, with rosebuds or daisies" (ll. 21f.)
    $\rightarrow$ Charmaine liking flowers: a trait of non-conformism in a world where everything needs to be clean and similar
  • metaphor: "movies with neat endings " (ll. 23f.)
    $\rightarrow$ Charmaine hated trouble, loved living a normal, standard life and used to have things in order which is why she became Chief Medications Administrator at Positron Prison
  • anaphora: "(…) there are depths, as it turns out. There are other duties not mentioned to her at first, there’s a certain amount of untidiness, there’s navigation to be done." (ll. 26f.)
    $\rightarrow$ Charmaine first considered the things that were not in order at her job as a depth with which she could not get along
    $\rightarrow$ managed to accept that there is a certain degree of untidiness and managed to embrace this
    $\rightarrow$ in turn found out that this is what she has always been missing in her life
  • alliteration: " Purple Passion" (l. 31)
    $\rightarrow$ stands for her affair with and her feelings towards Max
    $\rightarrow$ never had such feelings with Stan
    $\rightarrow$ can live her fantasies with Max
    $\rightarrow$ sees her (sexual) affair as a liberation from her old self
$\blacktriangleright$  3. Comment on the statement
Possible information for Introduction:
  • Margaret Atwood paints an unrealistic picture of the future: as her protagonist Charmaine states, there are jobs for all, no homelessness and the streets are safe
  • situation now in America: rather high unemployment rate, big gap between rich and poor people, people are homeless and streets are not really safe in some American cities (Chicago)
  • the question is: shouldn't Atwood's novel then be a utopia if everyday life is ensured to be safe? Or are there any downsides to the idyllic picture of the future? Does the project really work?
Main Part
Pro arguments:
  • good life on the surface three aspects seem to be better than what America faces nowadays
    $\rightarrow$ project has accommodated Charmaine and her husband when they didn't have anyplace else to go and when they didn't have any positive perspective
    $\rightarrow$ town of Consilience provided them with jobs and with a home and keeps them safe
  • Brave New World - Aldous Huxley: jobs are distributed according to the caste one belongs to
    $\rightarrow$ everybody DOES have a job (even those who are intellectually deprived)
    $\rightarrow$ morals are taught via sleep-teaching methods in order to create and maintain a secure environment
  • Divergent - Veronica Roth: project/experiment that distributes persons into different groups
    $\rightarrow$ every group has a distinct purpose (job) which serves the whole community
    $\rightarrow$ there are no apparent crimes since everybody knows their place
    $\rightarrow$ groups live together in their very own building/lot
Con arguments:
  • The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Atwood: loss of individualism
    $\rightarrow$ the prize to pay for safe streets, jobs and a home is high
    $\rightarrow$ being obligated to be an inmate for a month for a crime that has not been commited - deprivation of dignity
    $\rightarrow$ streets are safe, but to what extend: there are black vans everywhere that report any strange behaviour - deprivation of freedom
    $\rightarrow$ home is exchanged for prison every other month
    $\rightarrow$ rules need to be followed at any cost - reader doesn't know what will happen if someone deviates from them but surely there will be some kind of punishment
    $\rightarrow$ socializing is not possible, as well as everybody needs to be a conformist
  • Brave New World - Aldous Huxley: sterile and controlled society
    $\rightarrow$ allegedly safe environment, everything is in order, but this can only happen due to the conditioning of the inhabitants with a drug called soma and due to depriving some children of basic things like books in order to create a caste-based society in which everyone has a place and a task
    $\rightarrow$ if one deviates from the norms, he or she will be put in exile - Helmholtz doesn't even see this as a punishment but as a liberation from the constraints of London-society
    $\rightarrow$ although jobs and homes are provided, Bernard still thinks that the society and its norms are twisted
    $\rightarrow$ Linda did not try to get back to London but rather stayed with the uncivilized because she was free there
  • Divergent - Veronica Roth : questioning of the pre-given factions
    $\rightarrow$ Tris cannot believe that everyone does belong to only one faction but that in every person, there are bits of every faction - hates that she has to decide for and stick with one, otherwise she will be made factionless and thus homeless
    $\rightarrow$ sticking to the rules provides one with shelter and opportunities to socialize - not sticking to the rules can mean ostracism or death
Possible Conclusion:
  • alleged utopias as in "The Heart Goes Last" where there are plenty of jobs, no crimes and homes for everyone are not existing
  • there is always a prize to pay for a "nice" lifestyle
  • not enough information in the excerpt to properly judge whether having a job and a home is worth living in an experiment
$\blacktriangleright$  4. Write a speech
Possible information for Introduction:
  • utopian or dystopian fiction has been more famous than ever since the past few decades
  • classics such as "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley or "1984" by George Orwell have paved the way for many popular dystopian novels that even have turned into movies like "The Hunger Games" or "Divergent"
  • it is a topic that everyone can relate to: the fear of an unknown future and shapes and norms of a future society
  • many authors have taken that fear and turned it into reading material - picturing a future that no matter what it might look like seems absolutely plausible, yet terrifying
  • for the international literature festival with its topic Visions of the Future, I chose an excerpt of Margaret Atwood's novel "The Heart Goes Last"
Main Part - Why I chose the excerpt from "The Heart Goes Last" by Margaret Atwood
  • topicality of the issue: a job, home and safe surroundings is something everyone wishes for
    $\rightarrow$ whether one looks at American students who have tremendously high student loans and who terribly struggle to find a job good enough to repay the credit or whether it is high murder rate in cities like Chicago or Detroit - Atwood is right to say that in the future that takes place in her novel, those things do not exist, a wish that burns in everyone all over planet earth
    $\rightarrow$ in fact: there are safe streets, no homelessness and jobs for all in "The Heart Goes Last"
    $\rightarrow$ those three things make up what people actually root for in life: living a life without fear of crimes, with enough money to buy whatever might make one happy and a home where one can spend joyful time at
  • surveillance: gaining more and more relevance today
    $\rightarrow$ the excerpt of Atwood's novel features one thing that developed more recently and that will become of more importance as time goes by: surveillance
    $\rightarrow$ with NSA tracking messages of political figures such as Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin, no secrets can be kept and scandals are bound to happen
    $\rightarrow$ if you think that this just concerns celebrities or politicians, you are simply wrong or naive: just consider a Google street view car passing your neighbourhood, recording something embarrassing happening to you - not fun is it?
  • relevance of the author: award-winning and praized
    $\rightarrow$ her novels belong to the genre of speculative fiction: meaning that the situations and happenings she describes in her novels might actually happen on planet earth (in contrast to science fiction)
    $\rightarrow$ her novel "The Handmaid's Tale" was just recently turned into a series that can be watched on Amazon Video which shows that her writing is admired and very close to the audience (and yet disturbing)
  • assignability of main topic: being unsatisfied with the marital relationship
    $\rightarrow$ protagonist tries to escape her former self and to find her true self via tapping into an affair with her lover Max
    $\rightarrow$ protagonist used to love her husband for being down-to-earth and for being predictable and "safe" because she thought that that was what she desperately needed
    $\rightarrow$ yet, she needed escape from that, she managed to love untidiness and recognized that what she had with her husband was nothing that still fit her desires
    $\rightarrow$ feels she is her true self with her lover
    $\rightarrow$ people nowadays tend to stick with what they have out of fear to never getting something better and out of fear of being alone which is utterly wrong - everyone should pursue his very own happiness, no matter what that does look like
Possible Conclusion:
  • Atwood succeeds in wrapping the topics of today's life - whether on the meta-level (surveillance) or on the micro-level (lack of satisfaction) - in a novel of the future
  • everything that people are scared of now happens in her novel, and Atwood might have a solution or some kind of guide in her novel that helps people getting rid of that fear
  • "The Heart Goes Last" is a must-read for everyone who loves being in imaginary worlds that still feel real, nevertheless disturbing and "just around the corner" - like a guide on what to do when the future strikes
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Teil A

Leseverstehen und Schreiben integriert

$\blacktriangleright$  1. Describe life in Consilience as well as Charmaine's attitude and feelings
The life in the city of Consilience in Margaret Atwood's novel "The Heart Goes Last" is rather restricted. People have to use special Consilience-issued phones that are being tracked, communication is only possible inside of Coonsilience and nothing gets in or out of the city. Yet, there are safe streets, there is no homelessness and jobs are provided for everyone. In fact, there are a lot of vacant houses in town due to failing industries or foreclosing lenders. An institution called Surveillance that obviously observes and reports everything that happens in town also exists.
The protagonists Charmaine and her husband Stan had to work and live in the town's prison for a month. Because Charmaine has never really loved her husband and actually just married him for his down-to-earthness, she has a lover. Somehow, she is scared that someone might find out about her affair with Max and tries to make sure that no one suspects something. However, she seems pretty composed and calm despite her situation. This seems rather shallow, since her lover Max chooses houses where they can meet that Charmaine would like (with pretty wallpapers and nice interior decoration).
Whatever Charmaine used to do in her life, it was all predictable: she married Stan because he was down-to-earth and predictable and she became Chief Medications Administrator because she liked tidiness. However, Charmaine noticed that things are not as she was told they would be - there is a lot of untidiness and navigation that needs to be done and actually, she came to like those downsides. Now, Charmaine even considers herself sloppy having left a note for Max underneath the fridge - something she would have never done back in the days. Hence, Max brings out feelings in her that she never had before including some kind of sexual emancipation, she even uses phrases like "I am starved for you" which she would have never done before. Thus, Max makes her find her true self.
Teil A $\blacktriangleright$  2. Analyse presentation of Charmaine's character
Charmaine's character in the novel "The Heart Goes Last" by Margaret Atwood is presented through various means. First of all, the story is told from the 3rd person limited point of view. The reader is told the story thought the eyes of Charmaine, so the reader knows her, her surroundings and feelings, gets closer information on her husband Stand and her lover Max but nothing more. The story is written in present tense except for when she refers to her love for Stan: "She loved Stan". This marks her finding her true self and the fact that she was only with Stan because she thought that this relationship was safe. There is also a contrast between Charmaine's former life or the life that she had imagined and the life she is living right now. She used to love Stan due to his predictability and a tidiness that she had also seen in herself, yet she found her true self when meeting Max.
A lot of Charmaine's character is revealed in her use of language. At times it is quite figurative which can be seen by the metaphor "the whole town is under a bell jar" (l. 4) describing the town of Consilience. Charmaine seems to disagree with the town's concept of keeping communication within - she thus feels that the same town is like a prison. In order to describe the communication, Charmaine uses negatively connoted words in the enumeration "no whines, no complaints, no tattling, no whistle-blowing" (ll. 5f.). It also means that the town dooesn't want the outside world to know about the apparent bad things going on within it - Charmaine on the contrary knows that and does not approve of it and hence questions the concept of the town. Her disapproval mainly becomes evident through irony: "[…] because look: safe streets, no homelessness, jobs for all!" (l. 8) Although the town provides its inhabitants with jobs and safe streets, Charmaine looks behind the curtains and sees that although there are jobs and safe streets, there is a prize to be paid if one wants to live there - in form of the constant surveillance or in form of having to go to prison for a month. Her opinion on the concept of the town can also be seen in the euphemistic "discouraging bumps" (l. 10). There used to be bumps on the road that had to be flattened out - this means that bumps or flaws in the humans had to be flattened out as well. No individualism is left and conformism rules. Not only the road stands for the humans living in Consilience but the houses do so as well. "Tag them either for the wrecking ball and levelling for parkland and community gardens" (ll. 19-20) - this metaphor actually says that the houses are intentionally destroyed in order to make something "better" out of them, to make them fitting the surroundings and serving the community. Those houses also stand for the individuals who were transformed into conformists.
Yet, Charmaine doesn't fit in there - she likes "wallpapers, with rosebuds or daisies" (ll. 21f.), a trait of non-conformism in a world where everything needs to be clean and similar. Her change in behavior is made visible through the metaphor "movies with neat endings" (ll. 23f.): Charmaine used to hate trouble and she used to love living a normal, standard life where everything was in order which is why she became Chief Medications Administrator at Positron Prison. The anaphora "[…] there are depths, as it turns out. There are other duties not mentioned to her at first, there's a certain amount of untidiness, there's navigation to be done." (ll. 26f.) emphasizes that fact. Charmaine first considererd the things that were not in order at her job as a depth with which she could not get along. However, she managed to accept that there is a certain degree of untidiness and she also managed to embrace this. In turn, she found out that this is what she has always been missing in her life. Her lipstick that carries the name "Purple Passion" (l. 31) is a symbol for that. It stands for her affair with and her feelings towards Max when in fact, she had never had such feelings for Stan. Now, she can live her fantasies with Max and sees her (sexual) affair as a liberation from her old self.
Teil A $\blacktriangleright$  3.1 Comment on the statement
In her dystopian novel "The Heart Goes Last", Margaret Atwood paints an unrealistic picture of the future: as her protagonist Charmaine states, there are jobs for all, no homelessness and the streets are safe. Compared to the current situation in America, the future seems pretty bright with a rather high unemployment rate, a big gap between rich and poor people, people who are homeless and with streets that are not at all safe in some American cities - Chicago for instance. The question that arises here is: shouldn't Atwood's novel then be a utopia when everyday life is ensured to be safe? Or are there any downsides to the idyllic picture of the future? Does the project of the town of Consilience really work?
Well, on the surface, people in Consilience live a good life: the three aspects I mentioned before seem to be better than what America faces nowadays. The project has also accommodated Charmaine and her husband when they didn't have anyplace else to go and when they didn't have any kind of positive perspective.
In Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", the jobs are distributed according to the caste one belongs to. So at least everybody - including those who are intellectually deprived - does have a job. In addition, the people live in a very safe environment since morals are taught via sleep-teaching methods in order to create and maintain a secure society.
The people in the novel "Divergent" by Veronica Roth are sorted into different groups according to their characteristics. Every group has a distinct purpose or job which serves the whole community and there are no apparent crimes since everybody knows their place in the society and the groups are living together in their own building or lot.
Since all of the before-mentioned novels feature societies where jobs are evenly distributed and where no obvious crimes are committed, it seems possible that the societies depict an attainable goal of providing jobs and a home for everybody and security.
However, one must dig deeper in order to see the real face of those societies. In Atwood's novel, individualism is completely lost. Apparently, this is the prize to pay for safe streets, jobs and a home - some rather pricey possessions. It also comes with the deprivation of dignity since you only get a job, if you are willing to be an inmate for a month for a crime that has not been committed. Furthermore, yes, the streets are safe, but to what extend? There are black vans everywhere that report any strange behaviour which is a deprivation of freedom. Of course, you get a home, but you have to exchange it every other month with a cell in the prison. Rules need to be followed at any cost and the reader doesn't really know what will happen if someone deviates from them but surely, there will be some kind of punishment. Any kind of socializing is impossible and everbody needs to be a conformist - a bright picture of the future, isn't it?
Huxley's world also consists of a sterile and controlled society. It's an allegedly safe environment - everything is in order - yet, this is only possible due to the conditioning of the inhabitants with a drug called soma and due to depriving some children with basic things such as books in order to create a caste-based society in which everyone has a place and a task. If one deviates from the norm, he or she will be put into exile - but the protagonist Helmholtz doesn't even see this as a punishment but as a liberation from the constraints of London-society. Linda sees it the same way since she did not try to get back to London but rather stayed with the "uncivilized" because she was free there. And although jobs and homes are provided, Bernard still thinks that the society and its norms are twisted.
In Roth's "Divergent", the members of the society at some point in time start to question the pre-given factions. Thus, Tris cannot believe that everyone does belong to only one faction but that in every person, there are bits of every faction and she hates that has to decide for and stick with one for her entire life. Otherwise, she will be made factionless and thus homeless. Sticking to the rules provides one with shelter and opportunities to socialize - not sticking to the rules can mean ostrcism or death.
In conclusion, alleged utopias as in "The Heart Goes Last" where there are plenty of jobs, no crimes and homes for everyone are literally not existing - there is always a prize to pay for a "nice" lifestyle. However, there is not enough information in the excerpt to properly judge whether having a job and a home is worth living in an experiment. But it would be worth it to read the novel and find out, don't you think?
Teil A $\blacktriangleright$  3.2 Write a speech
Dear students, parents, teachers and friends, thank you all for coming to our literature festival "Vision of the Future". Utopian and dystopian fiction has been more famous than ever. Classics such as "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley or "1984" by George Orwell have paved the way for many popular dystopian novels that were even turned into movies like "The Hunger Games" or "Divergent". It is also a topic that everyone can relate to: the fear of an unknown future and shapes and norms of a future society. Many authors have taken that fear and turned it into reading material - picturing a future that - no matter what it might look like - seems absolutely plausible, yet terrifying. When I was asked to contribute a speech for the literature festival on a text by a contemporary writer, the name "Margaret Atwood" crossed my mind the very same instance. I chose an excerpt of Atwood's novel "The Heart Goes Last".
The dystopian novel iactually addresses very current topics. A job, a home and safe surroundings are things that everyone wishes for. Look at the American students who have tremendously high student loans and who terribly struggle to find a job good enough to repay the credit or whether it is a high murder rate in cities like Chicago or Detroit - Atwood is right to say that in the future that takes place in her novel, those things do not exist, a wish that burns in everyone all over the world. In fact, there are safe street, no homelessness and jobs for all in "The Heart Goes Last". Those three things make up what people actually root for in life: living a life without fear of crimes, with enough money to buy whatever might make one happy and a home where one can spend joyful time at.
In addition, the topic of surveillance is gaining more and more relevance today. The excerpt of atwood's novel features one thing that developed more recently and that will become of more importance as time goes by: surveillance. With NSA tracking messages of political figures such as Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin, no secrets can be kept and scandals are bound to happen. If you think that this just concerns celebrities or politicians, you are simply wrong or naive - just consider a Google street view car passing your neighbourhood, recording something embarrassing happening to you - not fun, isn't it?
Atwood is also an award-winning and praised author. Her novels belong to the genre of speculative fiction, meaning that the situations and happenings she describes in her novels might actually happen on planet earth - in contrast to science fiction. Her novel "The Handmaid's Tale" was just recently turned into a series that can be watched on Amazon Video which shows that her writing is admired and very close to the audience. And yet, it's disturbing.
Furthermore, the main topic - being unsatisfied with the marital relationship - is present in the real life as well. The protagonist tries to escape her former self and to find her true self via tapping into an affair with her lover Max. She used to love her husband for being down-to-earth and for being predictable and "safe" because she thought that that was what she desperately needed. Yet, she needed to escape from that, she managed to love untidiness and recognized that what she had with her husband was nothing that still fit her desires. Thus, she feels she is her true self with her lover. People nowadays tend to stick with what they have out of fear of never getting something beeter and out of fear of being alone, which is utterly wrong if you ask me. Everyone should pursue his very own happiness, no matter what that does look like!
In conclusion, Atwood succeeds in wrapping the topics of today's life - whether on the meta-level of surveillance, or on the micro-level of the lack of satisfaction - in a novel of the future. Everything that people are scared of now happens in her level, and Atwood might have a solution or some kind of guide in her novel that helps people getting rid of that fear. "The Heart Goes Last" is a must-read for everyone who loves being in imaginary worlds that still feel real, nevertheless disturbing and "just around the corner" - like a guide on what to do when the future strikes.
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