The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 11 Summary
- The narrator thinks about how she went to the doctor the previous day. It's the only activity she gets to do by herself, and even then she's not alone. A Guardian drives her there.
- She has to visit the doctor each month to have her fertility and health checked. In the waiting room, all the other women are dressed in red too.
- When it's the narrator's turn, she goes into a white room and gives a urine sample. Then she undresses and gets under a sheet. A second sheet covers her face so the doctor won't see it.
- The doctor comes in to examine her. He speaks to her, even though he shouldn't. While he performs his invasive examination, he offers to help her. He lifts up the sheet and looks at her face.
- At first she thinks he means help her with news of Luke. But he's offering to have sex with her so maybe she'll get pregnant. He insinuates that the man she works for is sterile and that he could help her – he's done it for other people.
- It's dangerous to say that men are sterile, because the society blames infertility exclusively on women.
- The narrator thinks vaguely that if she can't have children, she might die.
- The doctor seems genuine, but it's hard to tell. He could be a spy, and if they got caught, it would mean death. The narrator has to be cautious, though, because he could report her if she doesn't give him what he wants.
- He leaves and she feels anxious but isn't sure why. The memory ends.
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