Chinese custom is NOT to have knifes at the table either. The cook is the master of the knife. He (or she) cuts up all the food so that the diner does not waste time chopping and slicing. In a way in the West, we eat half-cooked food, because we need to do the chopping, slicing, fileting which an expert chef should do.
The Handmaid's Tale is silly. It's misanthropic.
Knife note 2: Handmaid's Tale real-life historical precendent (albeit false in so many ways) was colonial Massachussetts. On June 25, 1633, governor John Winthrop, a founder of that Bay Colony, took out a fork, then known as a “split spoon,” at the dinner table, the utensil was dubbed “evil” by the clergy. They said that the only thing worthy of touching “God’s food” was fingers. So this fictional character, of the misanthropic Ms. Atwood's mind, would better complain of the fork given her.