You were there. All the time. But no one noticed you.

June realizes the origin of Gilead[1]

The Sons of Jacob are the conspiratorial group that devised the philosophy and social structure for a totalitarian patriarchal theocracy and orchestrated the rise of Gilead.[2]

Before Gilead[edit | edit source]

In the Novels[edit | edit source]

Professor Pieixoto describes the Sons of Jacob as "top-secret Think Tank".[2] Commander Fred states the group had the intention to "do better" but "never better for everyone"[3]

In the TV series[edit | edit source]

Origins and Politics[edit | edit source]

A Boston Globe newspaper article describes the Sons of Jacob as a "prominent religious group". They are an ultraconservative, quasi-Protestant Christian denomination formed in response to the infertility crisis, pollution, and the environmental and social consequences of climate change. It would seem that the Sons of Jacob movement rose to prominence amidst a revival of interest in religion in the general American public, in order to contrast "problematic" populist movements with religiousness and its "emerging power".[4]

Andrew Pryce, an early group member, explicates the group will "set things right" and "clean up" the country from a way of life "only for profit and pleasure"[5]. Thus rejecting profit seeking of individuals - in favor of a mercantilistic economic approach[4] -, the Boston Globe credits the organization as "old-fashioned group" which yet "raises new hopes" in the populace[6].

The group is led by a board called the "Committee"[7].

By later inquiries in the Boston Globe archives about the group, June discovers an internal militarized power structure, as well as their plan to curtail civil rights.[1]

Some, if not all, members seem to believe they are "doing God's work"[7] to "make the world better", yet admitting that "'better' never means better for everyone, it's always worse for some"/[8]

Recruiting and Social Activity[edit | edit source]

Unlike in the novels, the group actively enlists new members. In an interview with the Boston Globe one recruit says he discovered the Sons of Jacob on Facebook and was attracted to their emphasis on children and family values, or getting kids "away from their sinful families".[6] as he puts it: roughly at the same time, some U.S. policies deregulate ("privatize") the placement process for untended children in response to a growing adoption market.[9]. When Pryce recruits Nick for the organization, he mentions that the group has chapters in thirty states.[5]

Before the Takeover[edit | edit source]

Prior to the attacks, the FBI is closing in on some of the conspirators. As a response, the "Committee" issues orders for "three strikes" of alleged terrorist attacks.[7]

Coup d'état[edit | edit source]

See also: President's Day Massacre

In the novel[edit | edit source]

According to Offred, "'they' shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress, and the army declared a state of emergency". She adds "they blamed it on the Islamic fanatics" and that "the entire government" was "gone like that", making her wonder "how did 'they' get in". Later on "they suspended the Constitution" which they said "would be temporary". Moira suspects "they've been building up to this".[10]

In the TV series[edit | edit source]

According to Commander Fred Waterford, the attacks consist of "three strikes" against "the Congress, the White House and the Court".[7]

At the time, the TV reports an attack of "20-30 guys with machine guns ... shooting from the galleries" (Luke) of the Capitol and that "martial law has been declared", as well as "an explosive has been detonated (at) the White House". U.S. army officials then announce that the "National Guard is being deployed" and "has been called in" from all over the country.[11]

Similar to the book, June (as Offred) later recalls "'they' slaughtered Congress", "blamed terrorists", and "suspended the Constitution" which they said "would be temporary".[12]

In a flashback in A Woman's Place, several conspirators are then seen being tasked with "security" issues in a U.S.-flagged office (among them Mr. Waterford and Mr. Putnam), which seems to confirm the U.S. administration is under their control in the aftermath of the attacks. They also shut out female members from their political decisions at this point because they "won't let" women "forget their real purpose" again (Putnam).[7]

Waterford later tells Nick that a "Field Commander" of the conspirators "took New York",[5] and a refugee mentions to Luke that "D.C. fell",[13] which implies some military resistance against the SoJ's takeover flared up at some time.

After the takeover[edit | edit source]

In the novel[edit | edit source]

Newspapers are censored or closed down for "security reasons", roadblocks and "Identipasses" begin to appear. Offred says "everyone approved of that, since it was obvious you couldn't be too careful". Adult services like "Pornomats" vanish (which no one really misses) because "people were complaining". New elections are announced to be held, and that it "would take some time to prepare for them". The regime then freezes the bank accounts of all women and takes away women's civil rights to own property and to hold down a job[10].

In the TV series[edit | edit source]

The Committee, now in charge of governance, uses the imposed martial law to establish a patriarchal, theocratic regime with its own paramilitary forces (known as Angels and Guardians), and later to take away women's civil rights to own property and to hold down a job.[12]

The new regime eventually proclaimed the Republic of Gilead as a replacement for the United States, and began to detain and enslave fertile women as "Handmaids".[5] It moved quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical regime of Christianity-inspired social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes.

Despite the success of their coup d'état, the Sons of Jacob were unsuccessful in completely eliminating the United States and its administrative structures, who established a government-in-exile in Anchorage, Alaska.[14] The Sons of Jacob were also unsuccessful in completely taking over the entirety of the continental United States with armed resistance to the regime by the American people and the United States Armed Forces taking root in both the western and southern United States as well as a number of areas in SOJ/Gilead-controlled America becoming rebel enclaves (see Map of Gilead).

Present Time[edit | edit source]

In the abandoned Boston Globe facility, June is seen listening to a recording of an interview with an early "Sons of Jacob" member and digging through newspapers cutting out clippings. She pins the clippings to the wall under categories like 'Origins of Gilead', 'Power Structure', 'Militarization' and 'Curtailment of Civil Rights'. Staring at an article under the latter category, she 'tells' the clippings in a voice-over  "You were there all the time but no one noticed you".[1]

Known Members[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • In an event of catastrophic occurrence that kills the President and many officials (like the above-mentioned terrorist attacks), the designated survivor would become the Acting President of the United States under the Presidential Succession Act (3 U.S.C. §19). It is possible that the designated survivor was a member of the Sons of Jacob, or that they were also sought out and murdered in the attacks.
  • The freezing of women's bank accounts was largely attributed to financial records being stored electronically and labelled by sex.[12]
  • Author Margaret Atwood has constantly been vocal about her basing the book on "events that had already happened around the world". In the early 1980s, a U.S. White Supremacist group known as The Order had been known for criminal activities and for their pro-Aryan agenda. One notable member was the late David Lane. Activities included murder, robbery, racketeering, and terrorism. Their ultimate goal was to overthrow the United States government, and they had secret military training camps designated specifically for this purpose. Though the Order's intentions weren't religious (like those of the Sons of Jacob in the novel), the society they had in mind--were they to have successfully overthrown the government--would have resulted in purification in terms of harsh ethnic persecution and expulsion of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and "race traitor" Whites as well as other minorities living in the United States. Similarly, The Order believed in emphasizing the role of White women within the home while heavily limiting it outside.

Notes[edit | edit source]

Coup d'état[edit | edit source]

  • The Sons Of Jacob appear as those in power right after the "terrorist" massacres. This could mean the "designated survivor" belongs to the organization.

After the takeover[edit | edit source]

According to reports circulating inside Gilead, there are still pockets of resistance in California,[15] Oregon, and Washington (along the West Coast)[16] and Florida,[17][15] as well as the other Southern states and Chicago, Illinois,[14] which are presumably larger than admitted by the regime's own propaganda. This indicates the Sons of Jacob were unsuccessful in taking complete control of the continental United States (see "Theories"). Offred describes the scope of Gilead as currently uncertain. "The edges [...] vary, according to the attacks and counterattacks".[15]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Episode 2.3, "Baggage"
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Handmaid's Tale (Novel), Epilogue, "Historical Notes on The Handmaid's Tale"
  3. XII Jezebels, section 32.
  4. 4.0 4.1 As suggested by Commander Lawrence's Bookshelf
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Episode 8, "Jezebels"
  6. 6.0 6.1 Episode 2.3, Baggage
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Episode 6, "A Woman's Place"
  8. Episode 5, "Faithful"
  9. Following Aunt Lydia's explication, in Unfit
  10. 10.0 10.1 The Handmaid's Tale (Novel), section 28
  11. Episode 2.1, "June"
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Episode 3, "Late"
  13. Episode 7 "The Other Side"
  14. 14.0 14.1 Episode 2, "Birth Day"
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 The Handmaid's Tale (Novel), section 5
  17. Episode 1, "Offred"
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