The Handmaid’s Tale: IX-X

After sections nine and ten are read, we get a better picture of the world before Gilead rose and how this structure came into place. We get a picture of Offred’s life before the chaos begins, it is just like our world. Then the attack happened, the president is murdered, congress is killed, and the constitution is taking away. Offred’s privilege’s and actions are limited if not halted, meaning that all females in the society of USA are now banned from owning anything and are dependent on next of kin(male) or husband to take care of any affairs. The first example of this is when Offred is at the local store getting her pack of cigarettes, “It’s not valid, he repeated obstinately. See that red light? Means it’s not valid.” (176). Offred takes the entire day calling the company trying to resolve this issue of why her card isn’t working and soon her boss calls her in along with about nine other females. “We’re being fired? I said. I stood up. But why?”(176), this shows how the society is moving backwards in the novel and is moving back in the direction where all the females had to rely on their husbands or fathers in order to move in life.

Yet, when we look at the time that Offred is spending with the Commander, we can see the old society, before the president, congress and the constitution were killed, comeback in the little moments that they play scramble together. The commander talks with Offred, spends time with her like a human being, and an individual. As time progresses, she begins to enjoy these sessions with the commander but she tells herself something important, “I couldn’t quite define it– for the Commander wasn’t in love with me, I refuse to believe he felt anything for me as extreme as that– what would be left for her?”(161), these are her thoughts as the Ceremony takes place again and this time she is self-conscious about her body and the fact that she her hatred towards Serena Joy has turned into jealousy and guilt for taking about her husband from her, because now she is her own person in this ceremony. The Commander knows it as well, which is why when he reached out his hand towards Offred, she moved her head away, in order not to give away their relationship outside the Ceremony for fear of what might happen to her.

Offred and the Commander continue their meetings and she reads in front of him, they continue to play scramble and she even asks him about the writing in the cupboard in her room. The writing in Latin, “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum“(185) which means “don’t let the bastards grind you down” comes from a book of jokes, however, a handmaid had commited suicide. The handmaid that died also came to these sessions and now the Commander is trying to save Offred from the same fate, even though he is ignorant to the way the handmaid’s are treated, he is trying to find a way to prevent the same tragedy from happening again. All Offred wants is to know what’s going on(188).

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