Make It All Better


In The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Part IX we get an insight as to how Offred reacts and how she thinks and how she feels after what  has just happened in the study with The Commander. “I want you to kiss me” (139) “As if you meant it” (140). I was shocked at the ending of part VIII for the whole reason that all of this is forbidden and now he wants to kiss her. Not just that but now the commander wants Offred to kiss him like she meant it. I think that our dear author has wanted to show a side to the commander that we hadn’t seen, this vulnerability to him, this need and desperation to feel some sort of connection with this woman. “Time’s a trap, I’m caught in it. I must forget about my secret name and all ways back. My name is Offred now, and here is where I live.”(143). Atwood uses these words to reminds us that Offred is trapped. There is no way to run from this, because if you get caught you get killed, and if she gets killed there is no way of seeing her precious little girl. I am pretty sure she does not want to get killed. It is all for her little girl Hannah. Forming a bond with anyone is forbidden, but Aunt Lydia has taught these handmaids that men are sex machines and they can be manipulated. “You must learn to manipulate them, for your own good.”(144). That is exactly what Offred is doing, using the commander without him even noting that it is for her benefit. She has gotten to read, to put lotion on and to play scrabble. “Pen is Envy, just holding it is envy. I envy the commander his pen.”(186) The commander has let Offred use his pen to write down the words, “ Nolite te bastardes carborundum” which means, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”. Women are not allowed to write, read or anything having to do with words or physical work as that has been decided by men. Women are treated as housekeepers, some that can give birth and that is all. Women have been degraded at such level that it is insulting.

Offred realizes that she has some sort of power over the commander when she tells him about the former Offred, the one who hung herself. “You want my life to be bearable to me.” Atwood wants to demonstrate how easily Offred has found it to manipulate the commander, which is by guilt.  She knows that he is guilty of that, she knows that he had something to do with it, after all the Latin phrase came from him but it was the former handmaid who wrote it in the room. She knows that this is the way it has to be. To manipulate..

“I suppose it was Cora who found her. ” (187) On another note, Cora was the one who found the former Offred, hung by the ceiling looking all lifeless.  In the morning Cora finds Offred on the floor, she instantaneously drops everything as she screams. “What I heard first the next morning was a scream and a crash.”(151) It must be difficult for Cora to see another handmaid take her own life away. Cora has such high hopes for Offred that she even starts treating her nice.

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