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The handmaid tale

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The Handmaid’s Tale

Section 4: Birth VIII (pg. 135 -176)

Brief Summary/ Analysis

Chapter 19

  • Offred and all other handmaids are send in the birth mobile  to Janine’s home so they can help “encourage”/ attend Janine’s birth ceremony.
  • Offred and the Handmaids all file into the home of Ofwarren’s commander, Gilead dictates that all birth should be at home and it should be an all natural birth with no doctors.
  • Offred also talks about how Gilead’s society begin in the first place, she says that the late 20th century’s environmental pollution and natural disasters are the cause of low birth rates and this is what caused an antifeminist society like Gilead.
  • Gilead emphasis on natural birth embraces the idea of women being punished by the crucial pain that is involved in labor. The system created an unfriendly and jealous environment between the women, keeping them divided and powerless.
  • The wives attitude towards Janine is ironic; as they provide her a cookie and be nice in front of her and as soon as she leaves they call her and all the handmaids’ whores.

Chapter 20

  • Offred is surrounded by handmaids and there wives. Offred starts to think about her experiences in the red center and how she was able to see an “unwomen documentary” which showed the antifeminist movement and her mother as part of it.
  • The way the aunts brain wash the handmaids is very bias and typical for a society like Gilead, they only show or let them read what they want, the movies they watch are pornography and abusive videos of women being hurt and cut into pieces and they contrast it with antifeminist documentaries of porn to change the way the handmaids think.

Chapter 21

  • Offred complains about there smell of sweat and blood that has congested the room. Offred also chats with Alma (another handmaid sitting beside) and asks her about Moira. Janine gives birth and attention switches to warren’s wife who will rear the baby.
  • This was very sympathetic, because in a way Janine was striped away from her motherhood, she didn’t even get mother-child contact; Janine was treated like a disposable machine, which is good for making babies.

Chapter 22

  • Offred returns home, mentally and physically exhausted. She cheers herself with Moira’s escape from the red centre.
  • Moira’s escape is an act of rebellion and a motivation for the handmaids. Offred is proud of her friend’s encouragement but at the same time she worries about her life. Also Offred too, tries to find her inner rebel so she can try to escape from this feminist society.

Chapter 23

  • Offred’s meeting with the Commander is illegal and even though Offred understands this, she knows if she refuses to attend it, something worse than this could happen to her, and if she does attend it and get caught, Serena joy will not spare her life. In this circumstance, the commander tells Offred to play scramble with him. During her game she uses words that relate to her life as a handmaid, not to mention she is given a privilege to spell words. She finds herself feeling sorry for the Commander who, she realizes, is just as isolated as she is herself.
  • Offred knows that the commander wants something from her before she enters her room, Offred thought it would’ve been sexual favors of some sort but instead it was a game of Scramble. Why? I think that the commander will want further meetings with her so she can get comfortable and then he’ll ask for what he wants. And the way Offred describe this meeting to be a date, I have a feeling the commander will call her more and more. It is also surprising that the commander wants a kiss afterward I mean not only is this wrong but he has a wife of his own.


“Sanity is a valuable possession; I hoard the way people once hoarded money. I save it, so I have enough, when the time comes.” (pg. 135) Through Offred’s perspective we learn that she is comparing her sanity to money that once exists in her life.


Through the use of Character the reader learns that Moira is a mentally stable and rebellious girl who isn’t afraid to take risks. From the previous section we learned that she is a lesbian therefore she is against male-female relations, the only kind that exist in Gilead.  She is the only character that stands for rights and has made her second successful attempt to escape from the red centre. “Moira had mechanical ability.” (pg. 163) This tells the reader that she had “manly” traits (like fixing a car); Moira’s escape showed the other handmaids that IF they try they might escape. Moira blackmailed the aunt and took her to the basement where she told her to switch clothes with her, this symbolized rejection of Gilead’s attempt to define her identity.


Through situational irony and foreshadowing the reader learns that the Commander didn’t want sexual favors from Offred but instead wanted to interact and spend some time with her. The situational irony comes when the reader has anticipated that when Offred goes to her private meeting with the Commander, he’ll probably ask her have sex with her or something but instead he asks her to play scramble with her and than asks for a kiss.

Who is ABUSING their POWER more, Serena Joy, Aunt Lydia or the Commander and in what way?

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