The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 34 Summary
- Back in the present, a Commander comes in to lead the Prayvaganza. The narrator can't imagine what he's like in bed.
- He leads the people in prayer and a hymn. Then twenty Angels (soldiers) come in and mothers present them with twenty daughters in a marriage ceremony. The narrator wonders whether the girls will remember anything of the life they led before things changed.
- She flashes back to a conversation she had with her Commander: in it, he says things are better now for women. They've removed the dating pool, doubt, and all that stuff. Now there's more respect.
- The narrator says he left out love. He says arranged marriages have better odds of surviving.
- In another brief memory, the narrator recalls Aunt Lydia saying the women in the Center can't think or talk about love.
- She remembers that the Commander says that they've just returned things to the way they naturally should be.
- Back at the Prayvaganza, the narrator explains that this one is for weddings. Sometimes they would have them for nuns who were becoming Handmaids, but there aren't that many nuns left now.
- The Commander at the Prayvaganza keeps praying about how women should dress modestly and act soberly.
- Ofglen tells the narrator that the Wives act hypocritically, while the narrator thinks about how the girls getting married have it worse than the Angels. She mentally advises them to sleep with their husbands silently and not complain.
- The narrator then flashes back to a time at the Center when she and Moira are making fun of Aunt Lydia, who told them they have to stick together. Moira makes fun of Lydia and accuses her of having sex with Janine, abusing her power to make the women at the Center perform sexual favors for her. The narrator protests, but Moira says it helps them to talk this way.
- Back at the Prayvaganza the narrator realizes this is true. So she imagines first-time sex for all these couples going really, really badly.
- At the end of the Ceremony, as they're leaving, Ofglen quizzes the narrator about what she's doing with her Commander. The narrator implies they're having weird sex.
- Ofglen asks the narrator to get whatever information she can.
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