The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 28 Summary
- The narrator is back home. She's supposed to take a nap but she's too wound up. She has a small fan in her room and thinks about how Moira would know how to take it apart to use as a weapon, but she doesn't.
- The narrator wonders what Moira would say about her situation. She thinks back to a conversation they had, before all of the change. In this flashback Moira criticizes the narrator for being with Luke, who is married to another woman. The narrator responds that it isn't fair for Moira to criticize her because she has become a lesbian.
- They are in the narrator's kitchen during this talk. They fight about whether a world without men is possible. The narrator says Moira was her dearest friend, then changes her verb to "is."
- The narrator describes a second flashback, where she worked in a library and waited for Luke's divorce to be finalized. She remembers how she used to have a job and how now that's such a foreign thing for a woman.
- The narrator compares women with jobs to using paper money, both of which are now obsolete. She remembers her mother showing her paper money. The narrator speculates that the political coup was possible because all the money was electronic.
- What originally happened, at the start of this governmental change, was that the president and Congress were all assassinated, the army took over, and they stopped following the Constitution. The narrator reflects about how everyone sort of accepted this and didn't try to riot or revolt.
- Moira warned the narrator that things would get worse, but the narrator didn't know what she meant.
- The narrator describes how conditions worsened, identification became more important, and porn became illegal.
- One day the narrator commiserated about the situation with a woman who sold her cigarettes. The next day she went to the store and the woman was gone; a man was working there instead. Luke had taken their small daughter to school.
- The man working at the cigarette store tells the narrator she can't use her account to buy anything. She watches in disbelief as the man tries her account number again and, even though she has plenty of money in it, it freezes.
- She says she'll call the credit card company later. At work she keeps calling but can't get through. That afternoon her boss comes in and says women can't work there anymore; it's a new law. There are other men there with guns, and the women are forced to leave. They don't know what's going on.
- The narrator goes back to her empty house and isn't sure what to do. She tries to call her mother and can't get through, then finally gets to Moira.
- Moira arrives at the narrator's house and they have drinks while the narrator tells her what happened. Moira says all women's bank accounts have been frozen, and that they're screwed. The narrator's money will go to Luke, while Moira will find a gay man to help her access hers. The narrator thinks about how Moira is a little pleased that she had predicted this terrible thing and been right about it.
- The narrator picks her daughter up and they meet Luke at their house. They fight, as he comforts her and she says he can't understand her situation.
- Later the narrator realizes the men with guns hadn't been from the regular army; they were something else.
- The narrator reveals that some people protested, but not as many as you might think. Protesters were killed. She didn't protest because Luke said it wouldn't help. Instead she sat inside and cried.
- From this flashback, the narrator moves to an earlier one involving her mother. The narrator is 14 in this memory and her mother had been protesting in a march for women's rights and abortion rights. Her mother had been hurt. She came home with some friends and the narrator was embarrassed. The narrator remembers how her mother would tell her she was a needed kid. The narrator thinks about how she wishes she could tell her mother they did OK.
- The memory ends, and the narrator sees Nick walking around the house. He gives a signal, which means she has to go to the Commander. She wonders why Nick assists the Commander, what's in it for him, and whether he's trying to get anything on her.
- Back to another flashback: Luke wants to have sex with the narrator the night she gets fired. The news has already changed her, though; she doubts him, and herself. She wonders if he doesn't mind having more power than she does, or getting to act like she belongs to him. She never gets to talk with him about how this really makes him feel.
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