What role does Moira play in the novel?

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3. What role does Moira play in the novel? Moira is Offred's best friend. She is a part of Offred's life in all three time phases of the novel. In the "time before" they were easy-going college students together, and they meet again at the Red Center. Moira is a strong-willed woman who is not intimidated by the regime. She possesses an irreverent sense of humor and is like a breath of fresh air in the stilted, enclosed, fearful world of the Center. The first thing she says to Offred when they meet again is simply, "This is a loony bin " (ch. 13). This reveals Moira's down-to-earth nature, her willingness to describe things the way they are.


It seems as if nothing can break her or stop her from being herself. After her escape, Moira becomes a kind of mythic figure for the others at the Red Center, a symbol of defiance and resistance. Because of Moira, Offred says, "the Aunts were less fearsome and more absurd. Their power had a flaw in it" (ch. 22). However, it is debatable whether Moira continues in this heroic role throughout the novel. When Offred sees her again at Jezebel's, Moira is still in one sense her old irrepressible self. But in another sense she has changed. She has made her accommodation with the regime, and has no plans to escape from her role as a sex servant.


Twice she tried twice to escape. The first time she faked illness and was taken to a hospital, but her ploy was discovered. She was punished by having her feet severely beaten, and then she was returned to the Center. But this did not break her spirit, and her next attempt to escape was successful. She tied up Aunt Elizabeth, took her uniform and used her pass to make her way through checkpoints. After her escape, Moira became an inspiration to Offred and the other women at the Red Center. Moira escaped detection for about nine months, and planned to slip over the border to Canada. But eventually she was caught. The authorities told her she could either be sent to the colonies or work as a kind of sex servant at Jezebel's. She chose the latter option, which is the last place Offred sees her.

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