Handmaid’s tale reading log
Part 1 (Chapter 1-Chapter 12): The book starts out with the narrator who we learn later is named Offred. She and other women is in a gymnasium that’s repurposed as a type of temporary prison for them, with barbed wire and armed guards called angels who patrols outside.
Then we fast-forward in the storytelling and now Offred lives in a room which looks like a normal room but there’s no glass in the room, the door can’t shut properly and there is nothing you can hang yourself from.
Offred is a part of the Handmaids which dress in red except for white wings around their faces, in the house Offred is living in there is household servants called Marthas which wear green uniforms who do the usual household tasks such as cooking and cleaning. There is also Wives who live in the household who wear blue uniforms. There’s strict laws telling that Marthas can’t develop relationships with Handmaids. Offred wishes she could gossip with them.
handmaids are not allowed to drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol.
Offred collects tokens from Rita who is a Martha to do some shopping for food. These tokens serve as a currency and each token has an image of what it can purchase such as a token with an image of an egg you can purchase an egg with it. On her way out to go shopping she notices nick who is a Guardian of the Faith, washing the Commander’s car. Nick winks at Offred and she ignores him fearing he is an Eye, a spy assigned to test her.
In town Offred and another Handmaid Ofglen wait in line at the stores, when they’re done shopping they encounter Japanese tourists wanting to take a picture but they decline, the tourists asks if the they’re happy and they say yes to not get into any trouble with the authorities.
At night Offred reminisce about her earlier life when she followed her mother to a group burning pornographic magazines. Offred states that she had forgotten a large part of time which she thinks might be the pills or injections the authorities gave her. Offred often sings in her head as most music is forbidden.
Every month Offred is required to go to the doctor, she is required to have a Guardian accompany her. The doctor tests her for pregnancy and disease, at the doctor’s office she undresses and pulling a sheet over her body, a sheet hangs down from the ceiling cutting off the doctor’s view of her face as the doctor is not supposed to see her face when examining her or talk to her if not necessary. But on this visit to the doctor, he talks a lot and then offers to help her. He states that many of the commanders are often sterile and he says that he could help her by having sex and impregnating her. Offred is shocked by his use off sterile as there is no such thing as sterile men only barren or fruitful women.
After the doctor’s visit she is required to take a bath and she feels uncomfortable with her own body being exposed and thinks back to the past when she and her husband Luke went shopping with their daughter. She looked away and a lady took their baby and started crying and spouting out that the lord has given her it and it was a sign from the lord. The lady was then apprehended by the police. After the bath it was supper time and Offred wasn’t hungry and described the food bland and dry, she described it as chewing a piece of cardboard.
Part 2 (Chapter 13-Chapter 25): After the dinner Offred feels bored, and she wondered if men find bored women erotic, she started to think back of the Red Center and how Moira was brought there three weeks before Offred arrived there. Moira and Offred pretended to not be friends to not cause suspicion. At the Center everyone had to testify about their past lives. Janine testified that she was gang-raped at the age of fourteen. After she had spoken the Aunts which is the supervisors of the Handmaids asked the group whose fault it was. And all the Handmaids chanted that it was Janine’s fault, when Janine started crying, they called her a crybaby.
After bathing and eating Offred must attend the ceremony with the rest of the household. Serena which is the Wife of the Commander sits while Offred kneels on the floor. Rita and Cora who are Marthas in the household stands behind her along with nick. Serena allows them to watch the news while they wait for the Commander. The only television channels that are allowed is mostly religious channels.
Offred remembers when she and Luke bought fake passports when they decided to escape, they told their daughter that they were going on an picninc and planned to give her a sleeping pill when they crossed the border, so they wouldn’t question her. They packed nothing in their car to not raise suspicions.
When the Commander arrived, he started to read a bible to everyone. The commander reads passages that emphasize childbearing. As he reads the wife begins to sob quietly.
After the prayers and bible reading, the ceremony continues. In the bedroom Offred lies on her back between Serenas legs and holds her hand as the commander proceeds to have sex with her.
After the intercourse Offred is alone in her room and she cannot sleep so decides to go down and steal something. As she is stealing a Daffodil a type of flower she is detected by Nick and neither of them is supposed to be downstairs at night. Without saying anything they kiss, Nick then proceeds to say that the Commander wants to see her in his office tomorrow.
At breakfast she hears a Birthmobile, coming to collect Offred and all the other Handmaids because Janine is going into labour, Offred then wonders if Janine is going to give to birth to a deformed baby, an Unbaby as they describe it. One in four women have been poisoned by toxins or other pollutions ´, which leads to birth deformities in their children.
The Birthmobile arrive at the home of Ofwarren’s Commander, then another Birthmobile pulls up carrying the Wives.
Driving back Offred remembers Moira’s escape from the Red Center, she made a toilet overflow, when Aunt Elizabeth tried to fix it she stabbed her and tied her up and stole her pass and clothes. No one has seen Moira or had heard from her since.
At home Offred tells Cora about the child, and Cora expresses her hope that Offred will have a child soon, later that night Offred sneaks out to see the commander in his office, if Serena would discover this Offred would be sent to the colonies as an Unwoman, but if would refuse the Commanders request there would be more dire consequences, because he has more power in the household.
The Commander and Offred started playing Scrabble, after their meeting the Commander wanted a kiss and Offred kissed him, but the Commander felt disappointed as she didn’t mean it.
After leaving the Commander she has to forget her old ways to work within the system now that she has a type of relationship with the Commander and can exploit it. After undressing and getting ready for bed she starts burst out laughing as the events of the night was incredibly funny and she can’t keep it down, in the dark she trips and falls in to the closet and fell asleep on the floor.
In the morning Cora finds Offred on the floor and is panicked and drops Offred’s breakfast on the floor, Offred then wakes up and tells Cora that she fainted. Cora then covers for Offred and tell Rita that she dropped the Breakfast on accident.
Part 3 (Chapter 26-Chapter 36): Now that Offred has a relationship with the Commander, she felt a bit embarrassed about having sex with him at the ceremony.
Later Ofglen and Offred are going on a shopping trip, they are now more comfortable with each other, they notice that the fish store rarely opens as the sea is now so polluted that few fish is still alive. They visit the wall, and Offred still wonders if Luke is still alive or if he is imprisoned. On their way back from the shopping trip they stop at a store called Soul Scrolls, inside machines print prayers. After the prayers are printed the paper is then recycled and used again. Ofglen whispers to Offred wondering if God listens to the machines. Ofglen’s question is treasonous, but Offred decides to trust Ofglen and answers no. Ofglen and Offred now know they can trust each other.
Offred remembers the downfall of the United States and the creation of Gilead. First the president was assassinated, and the congress was machine-gunned. Then the army declared a state of emergency, telling everyone to remain calm, Islamic fanatics were blamed for the killing of the entire government.
Ofglen and Offred attended a ‘’Prayvaganza’’ with the other women of their district, held in what used to be a university building. The Wives sit in one section and the Marthas and Econowives which is the wives of the poor people sit in another section and the Handmaids kneel in a section cut off by ropes.
The women’s Prayvaganzas are weddings for the wives’ daughters, mass ceremonies in which girls as young as fourteen get married. Even though women’s Prayvaganzas celebrate groupweddings and men celebrate military victories, sometimes the Prayvaganzas celebrate catholic nuns converting to the state religion.
When Offred goes to see the Commander under the night, he was drunk. He talks her into wearing a skimpy outfit that was decorated with feathers. The Commander wants to take out Offred and Offred agrees. she put on one of the outfits and one of Serena’s winter cloak. Nick is waiting outside for them in the car, Offred hides on the floor of the car. When they arrived at the location the Commander put on a purple tag on Offred’s wrist and says that she is an evening rental if anyone asks her.
Part 4 (Chapter 37-Chapter 46): The place that The Commander has taken Offred is an old hotel. Offred sees women mingle with men who look important and powerful and realizes that she should stay quiet and look dumb, she has a feeling that the Commander likes to show her off and showing off for her. The Commander explains that ‘’the club’’ is officially forbidden, but that everyone needs to be satisfied and that men require a variety of women. Some off the women there used to be prostitutes before the forming of Gilead. The other women used to have respectable jobs such as lawyers and sociologists.
Offred spots Moira in the club, Moira turns around and sees Offred. They pretend not to know each other and then they signal each other to go to the bathroom. After a while they are reunited in the bathroom, Offred tells her story and then it’s Moira’s turn. She explains that after the escape from the Red Center, she made her way to the center of town still dressed as Aunt Elizabeth and then went to a couple involved in the resistance. The couple tried to smuggle her out of the country, but just as she was across the border in a boat she was caught. The Eyes tortured her and showed her movies of the colonies where the Unwomen cleaned up radioactive spills and dead bodies from the war. The life expectancy in the colonies was three years. But Moira chose to work as a prostitute instead in the club which is called ‘’Jezebel’s’’. Jezebel is a type of nickname they give to women who chose to get their tubes tied or give birth to an Unbaby.
Offred misses the old Moira who was full of rebellion. After she left the club she would never see Moira again.
The Commander took Offred to the hotel room to have sex with her but Offred is not exited about it but does not want to go against the Commanders will and Offred forces herself to do it.
Back in Offred’s room at the Commanders house she has taken off her makeup and put on her handmaid clothes. Serena has planned for Offred and Nick to meet so they can have sex.
Offred goes to Nick’s apartment and before they have sex Nick says No romance, okay?
Offred feels like she has betrayed Luke and wonders if it would have been different if he would have been alive.
A women’s ‘’Salvaging’’ or large scale execution is held in the former Harvard Yard. All the women in the district must attend.
Aunt Lydia sits on the stage, supervising the hangings. Three women are hanged, one is a wife and the rest is Handmaids. The Handmaids are required to hold a long rope as the women hang, as to show their consent to the hanging, the word ‘’salvaging’’ is another word for execution.
After the hanging Aunt Lydia instructs the Handmaids to form a circle. Then two Guardians come in with a third guardian who is accused of rape. He has been saved for the handmaids who will take part in a ‘’Particictiun’’ which is when all handmaids use physical violence and beat the Guardian to death.
After the Salvaging Offred goes out for a shopping trip, but she notices that it is not Ofglen who is joining her on the Shopping trip, as they were walking home from the shopping the new Ofglen says that the old Ofglen hanged herself when she saw the Eyes coming to arrest her. Offred feels relief when she heard the Old Ofglen committed suicide as now Ofglen wouldn’t say Offred’s name when she would be tortured by the Eyes.
When returning from the shopping trip Serena calls for Offred, when Offred enters the house Serena holds up the same winter coat Offred wore when she went to the hotel room with the Commander. Serena yells at Offred about how she could be so vulgar and that she is a slut. Offred went into her room after her confrontation with Serena. She feels at peace, and as the night is coming she contemplates if she would burn down the room. She might die from the smoke, although the fire would be taken care of quickly. Or if she would hang herself from the hooks in the closet, or she could wait for Serena to come and kill her. Nothing seems to matter. Then she hears the van coming for her. She regrets not doing something.
Nick then opens the door to Offred’s room and tells her that he should go with the Eyes. He tells her that they’re mayday, Offred contemplates as she has her suspicions about Nick being an Eye.
She decides to trust Nick and walks down the stairs to meet the men wanting to see her and jumps into the van.