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Perhaps the most poignant criticism of the societies in these two novels is the violation of the principals and mores of modern society. In “The Wars”, death and injury becomes common place, and stopping to help a fellow soldier is not always permitted. “That was the rule. No one went back- even for a dying comrade. Only someone wounded could stay with another wounded man… No one spoke. The dead all lay with their faces in the mud or turned to the walls of the trench. This was the only way they could be told apart from the wounded.” (Findley 118) More difficult to accept that this apathetic view of death is the enthusiasm that some of the soldiers in “The Wars” felt for the war and the destruction it caused. After being rained on with shells, having a close brush with death, “a bright young man with popping eyes turned to Robert and gushed at him: ‘Isn’t it marvellous!’
” Privacy is nearly impossible for ordinary soldiers. While on the boat, going to England the men “were cramped into spaces meant to hold a quarter of their number… The make shift latrines and showers were virtually open forums where privacy was unheard of… Up in the first class accommodations, the officers were somewhat better off.” (Findley 56-7) This also shows another disadvantage soldiers face that their superiors do not. Sexual abuse is seemingly common and goes unpunished in the novel. Four men rape Robert while his is in a changing stall at Asile Desolï¿½. “His assailants, who he’d thought were crazies, had been his fellow soldiers.
Maybe even his brother officers. He’d never know.” (Findley 169) Many aspects of the society in “The Handmaid’s Tale” also contrast modern societal values. Dead bodies are put on display for all to see. When on their daily walk Offred and Ofglen, “stop, together as if on signal, and stand and look at the bodies. It doesn’t matter if we look. We’re supposed to look: this is what they are there for, hanging on the Wall. Sometimes they’ll be there for days, until there’s a new batch, so as many people as possible will have the chance to see them.” (Atwood 40) Death does not have much shock value to individuals in the Gileadean society, as they have been exposed to it frequently.
The Handmaids take part in the execution of a man who has performed crimes against society. “There is a surge forward, like a crowd at a rock concert in the former time… Now there are sounds, gasps, a low noise like growling, yells… he’s obscured by arms, fist, feet. A high scream comes from somewhere, like a horse in terror.” (Atwood 349) These women, who are not violent in every day life, are so desensitized to death that they are able to vent their anger through murder. Rape is common with the Gileadean society, although it is not recognized as such. Handmaids are required to copulate with their Commander, if the choose not to, they will be sent to the Colonies. With citizens being desensitized to death, enjoying killing and destruction, and the acceptance of sexual exploitation, the societies in “The Wars” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” transgress the morals of contemporary society.
“The Wars” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” take place over dissimilar time spans, there are many societal parallels that are criticized in both novels. Soldiers are exploited by their superiors in “The Wars”, just as the unprivileged citizens in “The Handmaid’s Tale” are used solely to benefit the government. Ignorance to the true motivations and actions of the government are evident in both novels. Social mores and values of present-day society are infracted in both “The Wars” and “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Regardless of occurring over different time periods, there are several analogous aspects in the two societies represented in “The Wars” and “The Handmaid’s Tale”, which are criticized.