The Handmaid's tale Summary of Chapter 1-10


Chapter 1

-      Narrator (Audodiegetic) called Offred

+ Red – Danger

+ Belongs to Fred, no name. Shows they are nothing more than people that provide babies and have sex.

-      Sleeps in army cots

+ Treated like children

+ Oppressed

+ Forbidden to speak aloud

-      Introduced to character ‘Aunt Sara’ ‘ Aunt Elizabeth’

+ Electric cattle prods hanging from leather belts.

         1) Dehumanizing – “Cattle” – Noun.

-      Allowed to walk outside.

+ Walks in two

         1) Biblical imagery. (Noah’s Ark)

+ Basic human right

+ Monitoring armed officers called ‘angels’

         1) Ironic as they are the furthest from angelic.

         2) Themes of voyeurism

+ Chain – link fence topped with barbed wire

         1) Being corralled – dehumanizing

         2) Eliminated any chance of escaping.

-      Speaks about surroundings/memories in depth

+ Holds onto her memories as they are the only things that are hers.

+ Her surroundings are the only things she has left to think about.


Chapter 2

-      Change in scene// goes from past to present tense.

-      Now in a room, with no glass.

+ To prevent self-harm/suicide as they are needed to provide babies.

+ Offred must’ve had thoughts of escaping/self-harm/suicidal ideology to find out that it’s impossible.

-      Shatterproof window that doesn’t open completely.

-      Privilege not prison.

+ Suggests women aren’t worthy of having a home and should feel lucky that they are allowed to be there.

+ Signs of brainwashing.

-      Dresses in red

+ Connotations of danger and fertility (motif throughout novel)

-      Offred wants someone to talk to but Martha’s are not to form relationships with handmaids.

-      Images for currency

+ By not teaching/encouraging them to read, they won’t be able to become intelligent enough to escape.


Chapter 3

-      Commander’s wife’s garden.

+ Symbol for her desire to care and look after something.

       1) Theme of fertility

-      Commander’s wife, like all wives, constantly knits.

+ Offred is suspicious as to whether they get used or it they’re just used to give the wives a sense of purpose.

-      She reminisces on the first time meeting the commander’s wife.

+ Rebellious as she smokes a black-market cigarette.

+ The commander will always be hers as that’s what she fought for.

+ Used to be a lead soprano from Growing Souls Gospel Hour, a religious program from Offred’s childhood.

     1)  Contrast between her former


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