Thoughts from the front lines



I really enjoyed reading The Year of the Flood over Oryx and Crake. The story telling was much more intriguing and fast-paced than the first novel. Amongst the many elements Margaret Atwood incorporated in the sequel, Toby’s experience at SecretBurgers is what spoke to me the most, as well as angered me above all things. The conditions she succumbed to were horrendous, and sadly, she barely had no way out. Let’s not forget that Blanco was the worst part of it all. He played a big part in washing away the little bit of dignity Toby still had during that period of time in her life. Though her stay at SecretBurgers was simply in the early chapters, I look back on it and still feel mad only hoping that she would have spoken up or rebelled before AdamOne’s appearance.

Not needing identity or further information on Toby, her job is a reflection of the battered compounds she has no choice to settle in. Though her sexual abuse, she was demanded to work overtime without any lunch breaks. If it were me, I would have been gone in a flash. In this case, fear and dominance played big factors in her decision to stay. Blanco. Blanco. Blanco. As dumb as his name sounds, through him, Atwood depicts the hidden truths of fast food corruptions of the real world.

Image result for sexual abuse

Take a look at this website: . It briefly enumerates the problems there are with the industry, and if you can remember correctly, you will find which ones correspond to Toby circumstances the most. (Trigger Warning) Sexual harassment is number one in this case and is a prominent problem in SecretBurgers, undeniably. “Over one third of sexual harassment complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission were filed by women working in restaurants.”  With Blanco, he is relentless,  not forgetting that he is capable of quickly disposing the disposable.

As a McDonald’s employee myself, being overworked under stressful conditions is a task worthy of a break. Certainly, there is a sentiment of feeling like you are replaceable or disposable. What reassures me is that I can speak against such actions, however I only wish Toby would’ve done the same had she not been brutally oppressed by Blanco. Then again, already immersed in an illegal fast restaurant chain, such a complaint would probably have worked against her.

All in all, I believe AdamOne saved her life by recruiting her, however for the sake of being petty, Toby should have given Blanco a harsher punishment he deserved than she did when they meet again toward the final chapters. All this to say that silence has the power to cast you away, and Atwood does phenomenally in depicting how oppressive and abusive conditions may freeze you in silence, but also cage you in, in the process.



Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. Vintage Canada: 2010.

Luce, Stephanie. “10 Worst Things About Working in Fast Food and Retail” Alternet, 13 December 2013. Accessed 4 April 2017.


2 thoughts on “Silence

  1. Although I agree with a lot of the points you’ve made, I think Toby was conditioned to fear Blanco and this stuck with her throughout the entire novel. Its very easy to say that if you were in someone’s place, you would’ve done things much differently. “If it were me, I would have been gone in a flash” is something I’m sure most of us thought to ourselves while reading about Toby and Blanco’s abusive relationship, but as easy as it is to say, I doubt when faced with same situation, most of us would’ve chosen to run. Toby’s confidence was already low due to how she viewed herself physically, but Blanco was sure to make her feel completely worthless, and this definitely affected her behavior, and her ability to fight back. The abuse Blanco put Toby through nearly killed her, and although she built herself back up with the help of Adam One and the Gardeners, you can still tell that she’s not a confident woman, who views herself as capable, or beautiful. I think the way Toby viewed herself, and the way Blanco treated her changed her internally, and that’s why when she sees Blanco again in the novel she doesn’t fight back. She’s still extremely scared, and the memories she suppressed of her abuse for all those years surely resurfaced and the shield she built to make herself seem strong simply wasn’t enough to help her get the revenge she deserved.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you’re right about the harsh realities of working in fast food. I also think that recently the problem may have gotten worse. Not to make things too political but I believe that the remarks made by Trump about women during his campaign were really horrible. More importantly though was the fact that there were no consequences. In fact he’s the president now! I do think that Blanco is an extreme case for many reasons, but at the same time I think that this mentality starts somewhere, and the fact that public figures are not getting punished for their sexist comments won’t lead to a better future.

    Liked by 1 person

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