The Year of the Flood A companion to Margaret Atwood's novel

The Year of the Flood
Toby’s Life Journey

The Corps is the totalitarian government of the world of The Year of the Flood. They exercise a degree of control over most of the industries, e.g. SeksMart, and businesses, e.g. AnooYoo and SecretBurger. They can track their citizens through fingerprinting technology, and all citizens are required to have an identity. Those without one could get into serious trouble and would be barred from obtaining a legitimate jobs. The Corps even have their own police force, the CorpSeCorps, which although is corrupt, Flooders believed it “better than total anarchy”(34).

The Corps control over their citizens can be seen through Toby’s life:

After Toby’s parents died, Toby had to leave home and everything had to go out into the world alone and support herself. She couldn’t sell the house without revealing that she had inherited from her father, or without questions being asked about what had happened to her parents and where their corpses were. She merely burned her identity and “walked out of the house” (28).

The CorpSeCorps was unlikely to trace her—something it might do if she had been wealthier or of a higher social class—because there was nothing to be gained. If anyone asked about her disappearance, the Corps would make up a rumor that she’d been picked up by a pimp, which in the world of The Year of the Flood, “is what you’d expect in the case of a young woman like her—a young woman in desperate financial straights, with no visible relations and no nest egg or trust fund or fallback,” and no one would feel guilty because at least she wouldn’t starve (28).

Without an identity and money to purchase a new one, Toby couldn’t get a legitimate job because those too were controlled largely by the Corps. She resorted to working as a furzooter, selling her hair and eggs until there were complications and she could no longer donate her eggs or have any children of her own, and then to working at SecretBurgers before joining the God’s Gardeners.

Working at SecretBurgers had turned out not to be the blessing it seemed (“Toby was pleased . . . she could pay the rent, she wouldn’t starve”) as her aggressive, misogynistic boss Blanco took an interest in her and made her his unwilling sex slave. Blanco’s connections with CorpSeCorps men who were his friends helped him avoid punishment for his morally questionable actions (e.g. killing a Scales and Tales girl), so the power of the Corps allows for considerable corruption.

Toby escaped Blanco and SecretBurger to live with the God’s Gardeners where she would be protected from Blanco’s wrath because the CorpSeCorps declared the God’s Gardeners’ and their space “off-limits” because it would be bad for the Corps’ image interfere with anything with God in its name (48).


*All quoted references were made from:

Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. New York: Random House, 2009. Print

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