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The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 1 Summary

Night

  • The narrator and several other women are sleeping in a high school's gymnasium. Speaking for all of them, the narrator says they are thinking about the events that used to take place there and the romances that transpired. They think about what's to come and what has passed, while they sleep on army cots.
  • Two women, called Aunt Sara and Aunt Elizabeth, act as guards to keep them from talking or rising up. They use cattle prods, while the other guards have guns.
  • The women have to stay inside except for their twice-daily walks. Outside, the school's football field has been turned into a fort guarded by barbed wire and people called Angels. The women think about trying to seduce the Angels, but the Angels never even see them.
  • Since the women aren't allowed to talk, they use lip-reading to tell each other their names.
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