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    June's Leadership In "The Handmaid's Tale"

    How the novel's main character and narrator demonstrated leadership not only for herself, but for others as well.

    Within Gilead’s oppressive regime, June, a handmaid called Offred by most around her during the time and circumstances examined in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” was able to emerge as an unlikely leader, largely though an unknowing adherence to the four ‘courages’ expressed in Treasurer and his colleagues work, “The Power of Courage for Women Leaders.” This character perfectly exemplifies the characteristics laid out in the piece: try courage, trust courage, tell courage, and take-in courage (Treasurer et al).

    Try Courage

    Perhaps most appropriate for June, try courage within leaders is defined as being possessed by someone who is, “willing to take chances when opportunity knocks, even if success is not guaranteed” (Treasurer et al). From the beginning of June’s tale as it relates to Gilead to the last glimpse the audience is allowed of her; the character is consistently shown to demonstrate immense courage and bravery in the face of danger because she believes doing so may enhance her conditions. This does not, necessarily, ensure that all chances taken will be successes, as illustrated by her and her family’s daring but failed attempt to pass into Canada to avoid June’s inevitable fate of being forced into sexual slavery as a handmaid. Nevertheless, she persists in her pursuit of a better life, showing a similar try courage as she joins and collects information for Mayday, a prominent insurgent group within this cannon. Most glaringly, however, is the novel’s infamously ambiguous ending, wherein June, trusting Nick, enters a van that may either free her or further her captivity. Again, the character is illustrated as a brave, if not bold, woman willing to risk potential downfall for the possibility of opportunity. Cooperating with the men who are seemingly members of The Eye may damn her, but it also may enable her to ascend to a position of relative power in order to fight the system which had taken so much from her, in terms of freedom, dignity, and loved ones (Atwood).

    Trust Courage

    Furthermore, leadership is additionally demonstrated within June character’s through aspects of trust courage. Simply put, trust courage can be explained as putting faith in others, especially after having had one’s trust betrayed in the past (Treasurer et al). This is an especially admirable and substantial characteristic for June. During her aforementioned failed attempt to escape her captors, it is explained to the reader that a neighbor, friend, or otherwise seemingly innocent figure must have found out about the intended flight and tipped off the government. The very fact that she is, after such intense abuse of trust and general human decency, able to once again trust others in a society where everyone is meant to spy on each other is significant. Her continued faith in others is, similarly, displayed at the novel’s conclusion, when she makes the choice to trust Nick and enter the van that may, very well, lead to her demise. This ability to depend upon other people is demonstrated to be a great strength to June, as her capacity to trust others often allows her to concurrently reveal try courage (Atwood).

    Tell Courage

    As for displaying tell courage, June does this in more abstract, subtle ways than she may illustrate the other forms of courage. Tell courage, as the authors assert, is the capability of announcing your viewpoints and opinions to others and to the world, and generally ensuring that one’s voice is heard (Treasurer et al). As the society of Gilead is so repressed, and as June is forced into a role of subservience and disenfranchisement, the character is unable to declare her perspective in such a prominent way as suggested in the article. However, through less visible means, she is, in fact, able to affirm her own dissent and express herself to others. For the former, small acts of resistance remain enough, such as June swaying her hips in such a way as to distract the perverted gate guards, a seemingly invisible yet still powerful form of disobedience. Within the domain of self-expression, June does, at potential great personal cost, find avenues in which to assert to views to an audience. With the Commander, who retains full and total control over her, June refuses to remains timid as Gilead society dictates she should be, but rather argues with the former about the concept of love. During her affair with Nick, June similarly shows this tell courage by articulating her concerns and feelings about certain situations. Combined, these quiet and loud instances of resistance and communication culminate in a daring and exciting form of expression (Atwood).

    Take In Courage

    Finally, June personifies the unique ability to take in information and to consequently enhance in terms of skill and as a person as a result of her take in courage. For this courage, it is deemed that a necessary attribute for leaders is to consider suggestions from others and expand upon them for one’s own benefit (Treasurer et al). Even before the events of the novel, she is, through flashbacks and memories, seen as possessing such an ability. Within the handmaid’s training facility, June is shown to accept crucial advice from her friend Moira, which encourages her to not only retain her strength and bravery during these dire circumstances, but also enables her to take intelligent action in the future as it relates to her reactions to events. Furthermore, June illustrates an exceptional capacity to similarly take advice from her enemies. For example, in one instance Serena, her Commander’s wife, notes that if June is not soon impregnated, she will be declared an ‘unwoman’ and be sent to the Colonies to clean up toxic waste until her inevitable, untimely death. Rather, the two concoct a plan to ensure a pregnancy despite the Commander’s likely sterile nature, which confirms June’s skill in taking in the sometimes unsavory but necessary realities of life for self-preservation (Atwood).