We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. - Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Bogart Anne_PHOTO Nana Dakin_CropWelcome to the Lavietes Pavilion on the campus of Harvard University, the world’s second oldest basketball court. It may be true that novelist Margaret Atwood had exactly this spot in mind in The Handmaid’s Tale when she described what she called the Red Center, the place where all of Gilead’s Handmaids are trained as potential breeders. According to Atwood, the Secret Service of Gilead was housed in the Widener Library and it was the Harvard Yard wall where she imagined the hanging bodies of the executed. In Atwood’s novel, fertile women are taught how to act and how to present themselves at the Red Center. This is also the place where they are told that, because they were women, they no longer have the agency to make any personal choices.
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