Betrayal: How It Affects The Narrator In "The Space Merchants" And "The Handmaid's Tald"

1449 words - 6 pages

Betrayal by those we love is a scenario that has long been found in stories of our culture. Eve betrayed Adam by eating of the forbidden tree, Delilah betrayed Sampson by cutting off his hair, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, and the list goes on. In both The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl the narrators were betrayed by those they loved. The focus of betrayal by one's loved ones, despite the differences in gender of the person performing the betrayal and how it can be found from the narrator's perspective, was the focus that most influenced me when studying these novels. It shows how once one has been betrayed, whether willingly or unwillingly, life was forced to change. While the betrayal was obvious in The Space Merchants, it was a little more difficult to find in Margaret Atwood's novel.In The Space Merchants, the narrator, Mitch Courtney, has had his identity switched and was sent to a work camp in Costa Rica. As he progressed on his rise back to his "normal" life, he employed the help of the Consies, who he could not stand, and were reunited after Mitch's trials, with the love of his life, Dr. Kathy Nevin. While this betrayal became obvious when the two were united, there were clues to this betrayal earlier in the novel. Kathy was a cardiologist specialist. This we know from Mitch's lie about his heart hurting when he used a false name to get an appointment with her. When Mitch was finally frozen in the snow, a cardiologist would have had certainly have the knowledge of how long he could last in the prolonged cold without dying as well as knowing the ways to revive him after his exposure and equipment failure. At the same time, the low social security number on his arm was altered. While one cannot be sure it would take surgical techniques to remedy that at the time, the fact that the new numbers were almost identical to the way the old were written encourages us to believe that someone who was quite familiar with his numbers was the person who actually did the altering.Through Mitch's life, Kathy was the one constant that he thought about foremost in a society where consumerism was valued above all else. In the fourth paragraph of the novel we see how important Kathy is to Mitch: "But I lost the five minutes again by trying to call Kathy. She didn't answer the phone and I was late getting into the office." After receiving his promotion to run the Venus Project, the first person he tried to call was Kathy even after realizing that his first phone call should be to his staff to turn over his other work. But still, love triumphed and he tried to call his wife, to no avail. Upon Mitch's leaving California, Kathy asked to stay and play tourist. One can ponder that she probably stayed to meet with other Consie contacts and to have an alibi for Mitch's "death." Even as Mitch thought he was dying, his last thoughts were on Kathy: "And then I sat down, feeling guilty and ashamed of the indulgence, telling...

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