My Name is June


© Kirsten R. Hazler (2019)

Story

"My name isn't Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because it's forbidden. I tell myself it doesn't matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter. I keep the knowledge of this name like something hidden, some treasure I'll come back to dig up, one day... I lie in my single bed at night, with my eyes closed, and the name floats there behind my eyes, not quite within reach, shining in the dark."

- Excerpt from "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

 

In the novel, the reader never actually finds out what the protagonist's name is. In 2017, Margaret Atwood wrote a new introduction to her book. In it, she said, "Some have deduced that Offred's real name is June, since, of all the names whispered among the Handmaids in the gymnasium/dormitory, June is the only one that never appears again. That was not my original thought, but it fits, so readers are welcome to it if they wish."

 

In the MGM/Hulu adaptation of the novel, June declares her name in the very first episode. In Episode 6 of Season 1, the Mexican Ambassador, a woman, asks June if she's happy. In the presence of the Commander, she can't tell the truth. This song is a reply she might have given, if she had had more time with the Ambassador in private.

Here's a rough solo recording:

Lyrics

I am a mother and a daughter, a lover and a friend
The world that I once knew is gone, impossible to comprehend
Once I had a gentle man and he loved me to the moon
They call me by another name
But still, my name is June.

Now I keep my head down, I don't look them in the eye
Every dress I own is red and the driver is a spy
Once I had a mother, a fighter through and through
They call me by another name
But the name she gave to me is June. It's June.
All I have left is my name.

How can you do this? How can you let this be?
How can you do this? You're a woman just like me.
My name is June. And all I have left is my name.

You asked me if I'm happy. I told you what they made me say.
The truth is: Death is preferable to what I'm living through today
Once I had a little girl that I carried in my womb
They call me by another name
But now you know my name is June. It's June.
And all I have left is my name.

How can you do this? How can you let this be?
I'm a woman, I am human, I'm not a commodity.
How can you do this? How can you let this be?
How can you do this? You're a woman just like me...

...a mother and a daughter, a lover and a friend
The world I knew is upside down, impossible to comprehend
My daughter is out there somewhere and I pray to see her soon
She's the only reason I stay alive.

How can you do this? How can you let this be?
I am a woman I am not a commodity
How can you do this? How can you let this be?
How can you do this? You're a woman just like me

My name is June.
And all that I have left is my name.