Little Red Riding Hood & Red Shoes

external image woodroffe_hood1.jpg&sa=X&ei=wquQTfm5F4PZgQeN0dy8DQ&ved=0CAUQ8wc4CA&usg=AFQjCNGAJ6ovktVUxzobfRFekzmO0-YcnAexternal image anderson_redshoes1.jpg&sa=X&ei=BKyQTbmlJ8b2gAegg_yeDQ&ved=0CAUQ8wc4Ag&usg=AFQjCNFBR28MKEHv9GrVd46GlsLdx9BfjA
The Handmaid's Tales alludes back to two famous Grimm's brother's fairytales - the Little Red Riding Hood and Red Shoes.
Both tales are about a young girl donning a red clothing article, just like Offred and the other handmaids.
On page 18, Atwood alludes to "some fairytale figure in a red cloak" (18). This is obviously a description of the little girl in the enchanting story of LIttle Red Riding Hood - whose real name was never revealed, just like Offred's.
On page 17, Atwood alludes to Karen, a poor little female protagonist of the fairytale Red Shoes by describing "[Offred's] shoes....not meant for dancing" (17).

Although the connection between the quote on page 17 and the fairytale may be a bit vague, knowing how the story goes will help with understanding how the two relates.

Here is the story of Red Shoes and a poor little girl named Karen.

"A peasant girl named Karen is adopted by a rich old lady after her mother's death. She grows up vain. Before her adoption Karen had a rough pair of red shoes, and now she tricks her adoptive mother into buying her a pair of red shoes fit for a princess. Karen repeatedly wears them to church, without paying attention to the service. She ignores the anger of her adopted mother and disapproving stares that even the holy images seem to express at her wearing red shoes in church. Her adoptive mother becomes ill, but Karen deserts her, preferring to attend a party in her red shoes. A mysterious soldier appears and makes strange remarks about what beautiful dancing shoes Karen has. Soon after, Karen begins to dance and she can't stop. The shoes take over; she cannot control them and they are stuck to her feet. The shoes continue to dance, through fields and meadows, rain or shine, night and day, and through brambles and briars that tear at Karen's limbs.........[not complete]" (Wikipedia)

Karen's red shoes mentioned in this story is what I believe atwood was referring to when she inserted the description of Offred's shoes. In the story, Karen, in vain, goes against the church rules and wears red shoes to church, and an angel, in anger, places a curse on Karen so that her red shoes would never stop dancing. Similarily,when Atwood inserted "red shoes... not meant for dancing" I believe she is emphasizing the fact that no more church rules stand against red shoes anymore; no more angels to place a curse on the shoes to danice for eternity. These shoes are not meant for dancing.