- Created by: ambermason0608
- Created on: 24-11-18 10:32
The Power of Belief
What does the word 'belief' mean?
- Knowing something to be true without observable evidence
- What connotations does it have?
- Why do we need beliefs?
- To control others and their behaviour
- Hope/ trust in an after life
- As a guide for morality
- Hope- society needs this to be able to function
- To what extent are belief and knowledge comparable?
Concept: Belief can give individuals and communities power for both good and ill.
1 of 14
Chapter 18 (Offred)
- In Chapter 18, what does Offred believe about Luke?
- "I believe Luke is lying face down in a thicket, a tangle of bracken, the brown fonds from last year under the green ones just unrolled…"
- "I also believe that Luke is sitting up, in a rectangle somewhere, grey cement, on a ledge or the edge of something, a bed or chair"
- "I also believe that they didn't catch him or catch up with him after all, that he made it, reached the bank, swam the river, crossed the border, dragged himself up on the far shore, an island, teeth chattering…"
- Three stories about Luke
- Escaped- hopes for this one
2 of 14
Chapter 18 (Offred)
- Why does she need to believe this?
- "In reduced circumstances you have to believe all kinds of things"
- Needs to believe all three simultaneously, because it is the only hope and way that she can have a future.
- "I pray.."
- "God knows.."
- To what extent can we trust that she believes it? How could the text suggest that she doesn't fully believe?
- "The things I believe can't all be true, though one of them must be. But I believe in all of them, all three versions of Luke, at one and the same time"
- "This contradictory way of believing seems to be, right now, the only way I can believe anything. Whatever the truth is, I will be ready for it"
- Atwood repeats the phrase "I believe.." which suggests that Offred is trying to make herself believe it.
3 of 14
Chapter 18 Summary
- Later that night the narrator is in bed thinking about Luke. She remembers being in bed with him while she was pregnant and misses the sex they had and the love that went with it. She feels lost, just like the people she loved are lost.
- There's no passion left; the narrator can't even pleasure herself. She thinks this society has withered her like a flower.
- She runs through a few scenarios of what might have happened to Luke. In the first, his body lies in the grass after being hit by the shots that were fired at them when the narrator was taken.
- In the second, he's in a prison somewhere, abused but alive.
- In the third, the narrator sees Luke as having evaded death and capture. Despite all odds, he's now somewhere warm and safe, plotting to rescue her and their daughter so that they can be a family again.
- The narrator knows that any of these scenarios could be true. She doesn't know what to believe anymore.
4 of 14
Chapter 19 Summary
- The narrator is dreaming that she leaves the Commander's house and goes home to meet her daughter. When she hugs her daughter she realizes she must be dreaming, which makes her cry. Then she awakens in another dream, where she is a child and her mother visits her.
- Then she really wakes up. She wonders if she's being drugged and decides she's not crazy yet.
- She looks at her "FAITH" pillow and wonders if there are others in the set, then goes downstairs and sits in a chair. There she thinks about the meaning of "chair" while having a breakfast of eggs and toast.The narrator meditates on the egg. Her situation makes her doubt even the small pleasure she finds in the egg. She wishes she had something of her own.Then she hears a siren; it's a red ambulance. Cora gets her and she gets ready to go. The narrator speeds outside and gets in the Birthmobile. Three other Handmaids are also in it. One of them, crying tears of joy, hugs the narrator. The person giving birth is Ofwarren (Janine).
- On birth days the Handmaids have more freedom than usual.
5 of 14
Chapter 19 Summary
- The narrator hopes the baby will be healthy and whole. Even if it's not, abortion is illegal so Ofwarren would have to have it anyway. Pollution, catastrophes, and "mutant" syphilis have led to widespread infertility, so for a baby to be born unhealthy, as an Unbaby, is a tragedy.
- Some women, rather than be in the Handmaid's position, made themselves infertile. The narrator remembers Aunt Lydia lecturing the Center women about this.
- The narrator flashes back to another lecture by Aunt Lydia at the Center, when she told them about their special task. The narrator focuses on graffiti on her desk while Aunt Lydia talks.
- Aunt Lydia says the women are like pearls, and the narrator thinks about how she will make fun of that with Moira.
- The flashback ends, and the Birthmobile arrives. The narrator and the other women get out. Doctors have to wait outside; they can only attend the birth if there's an emergency.
- The narrator remembers Aunt Lydia saying how awful births with doctors and technology used to be. Now it's all natural, all women, with no anesthetic. At the Center they heard about that part of Genesis every day at lunch.
6 of 14
Chapter 20 Summary
- The Handmaids go upstairs to the birthing room, passing the dining room. The Wives have gathered around Warren's Wife, who's acting like she's in labor. The Commander isn't there.
- The Handmaids go into the master bedroom, where Janine is in labor. Women, including Aunt Elizabeth, are preparing her for a ritual birth.
- The whole neighborhood is there.
- The narrator remembers Aunt Lydia saying it would be toughest for them, but she knows that's because future Handmaids won't remember a time when it wasn't like this.
- In another flashback, the narrator remembers how they were shown movies at the Center. Aunt Lydia picked pornographic torture films to show how much better things had become (Moira said they were faked) and "Unwoman documentar[ies]" (20.14).
- During one Unwoman documentary the narrator wonders where Moira is, because she wasn't at breakfast that day. She can't ask anybody, though.
7 of 14
Chapter 20 Summary
- When the film starts, the narrator is surprised to see a young version of her own mother at a protest rally, where it looks like they were advocating for abortion rights. Even though women at the Center aren't supposed to read, the writing on posters in the film is visible. The narrator's mother is present and then fades out.
- The narrator thinks back to conversations with her mother and Luke. Her mother had her (the narrator) when she was thirty-seven, which seemed old then, even though her mother felt young. Her mother was determined to raise her alone, not depending on men or worrying about money. She was almost violently feminist.
- Even when she was older, she still didn't want to depend on men, whom she thought were mostly worthless. At dinner with Luke and the narrator, she said even the narrator's father was worthless. She and Luke would tease each other by making chauvinistic statements.
- Even though the narrator and her mother disagreed frequently, the narrator misses her and the way things were.
8 of 14
Chapter 21 Summary
- Back at the birthing, it's too warm and too loud. The Handmaids chant while Janine struggles in labor. The narrator sees Ofglen. A Martha brings refreshments, and while they're being passed out, the Handmaid next to the narrator reveals that her name is Alma. The narrator asks Alma if she's heard of Moira, but she hasn't. Then Aunt Elizabeth sees them so they have to stop.
- The narrator wishes she could ask about Luke, but no one would have any answers for her.
- The narrator gets swept up in the chant and the birth. The women say Janine is in "transition." They assist her with peeing and then Janine continues to walk, before crying out in pain.
- They turn out the lights and put Janine on the Birthing Stool, and the Handmaids watch. This Commander's Wife comes in and sits behind Janine.
9 of 14
Chapter 21 Summary
- The baby is pushed out. It's a girl, which is not as good as a boy, but it's healthy. Everyone's happy, and the narrator remembers her own—and Luke's—happiness when their daughter was born.
- The Handmaids have to help Janine while the Wives coo over the baby. The Wife names her Angela.
- Janine will get to nurse the baby for a little, the narrator says, before getting a new assignment and going back to the drawing board, leaving the baby behind. Because she had a baby successfully she won't be sent to the Colonies.
- The Handmaids are led out and back to the Birthmobile. The narrator tells a nearby doctor that things went well.
- In the car the women are sad and think about the babies they've lost or never had. The narrator thinks of her mother and how now there is some sort of "women's culture."
10 of 14
Chapter 22 Summary
- Weary, the narrator returns home. She goes to her room and lies down but is too fatigued and overwrought to sleep. Too tired to think about her own story, she thinks about Moira's.
- The narrator has pieced it together from different people's accounts—Alma, Dolores, Janine, and Aunt Lydia.
- The narrator imagines how the information initially came out, which was when Aunt Lydia took Janine into her office and confided in her. The narrator didn't like Janine much, but she was still an ally on some level.
- Aunt Lydia would have told Janine that Moira had escaped.
- Moira had asked for a bathroom break. She called out to Aunt Elizabeth, who was on guard, that the toilet was overflowing.
- When Aunt Elizabeth came in and went to take a look, Moira threatened her with a weapon she'd made out of part of the toilet, forcing her to give up her weapons and go downstairs into the furnace room. There, Moira changed clothes with Aunt Elizabeth, gagged her, and tied her up. Dressed as an Aunt, Moira walked out of the building and out into the world unchallenged.
11 of 14
Chapter 22 Summary
- The narrator makes up an interchange in which Moira told Aunt Elizabeth to be grateful that she hadn't killed or tortured her before walking out.
- Aunt Lydia asked Janine to report on any possible news, and while none of the other women really trusted Janine, they were grateful for the news she gave them about Moira.
- Janine probably told Dolores, who told someone else.
- The narrator and other women at the Center became envious and scared of Moira, but they also lived vicariously through her. They worried she would be captured and punished, but as of this point in the story, the narrator hasn't heard anything about her showing up again.
12 of 14
Chapter 23 Summary
- The narrator explains that what she is telling is a "reconstruction," "all of it." She hopes she'll escape someday and says when she does, she'll restructure her experience once more. She wonders if maybe the act of forgiveness is the greatest power.
- She thinks of the Commander telling her he wants to kiss her, and explains what happened leading up to that.
- After the birth, she falls asleep and is woken up for dinner by Cora. Cora reveals that she'd like it if they could have a baby in their house too, and the narrator kind of hopes they don't. She remembers what Nick told her and is freaked out again.
- That evening she goes down to the Commander's office, which is completely illegal. He's not supposed to desire her; she's just supposed to be a vehicle for childbirth.
- If they're caught, she could be in real trouble, but if she doesn't obey him she could be in trouble too. She's intrigued, so she goes down and knocks on the forbidden door
13 of 14
Chapter 23 Summary
- Inside she sees a "normal" room full of books. She's scared.
- The Commander says hello, which people don't say anymore, and she doesn't know how to respond. He smiles and invites her to sit down before asking her to play Scrabble with him.
- The narrator is amazed that that's what he wants but agrees. She takes great pleasure in getting to spell different words. They play two games and he asks her to leave, then he asks her to kiss him.
- The narrator fantasizes briefly about turning part of the toilet into a weapon, just like Moira did, waiting for the next encounter, and killing the Commander. Then she says she's only thinking about it now, in her reconstruction, and didn't think it then at all.
- Instead she briefly kisses him, and he asks her to do it again, for real.
14 of 14