The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 39 Summary
- The narrator goes back to the Commander, who has a key to one of the hotel rooms. They go up. It looks just like it used to, all covered in flowers.
- She goes into the bathroom to compose herself. While she's in there, she feels at home.
- She remembers how Moira just told her that she saw the narrator's mother. This freaked the narrator out because she thought she was dead.
- Moira says she saw her in a movie about the Colonies. The narrator is grateful, but Moira says her mother would be better off dead.
- The narrator tries to remember when she saw her mother for the last time, but she can't. She has an impression of a bunch of casual meetings that didn't seem that important at the time. They had a unique relationship.
- In the memory, a couple of weeks later things suddenly change for the worse. The narrator tries to call her mother but can't get hold of her. She worries her mother is ill or dead.
- She and Luke eventually convince the guard to let them into her mother's apartment, which is completely empty.
- The narrator wants to call the police, but Luke won't let her. He says there's no point.
- The narrator remembers Moira liking her mother, then worries about her in the Colonies.
- She will have to keep grieving.
- The narrator ends her flashback and returns to the present. She looks at herself in the mirror and thinks she looks like a mess. She's running out of time; the Commander is getting impatient. They have a Ceremony the next night.
- She comes out of the bathroom and wishes they weren't going to do this, that even the Ceremony is better.
- She lies down on the bed. The Commander touches her, revealing that she has a tattoo, as presumably all the Handmaids do. But the narrator has a hard time responding. She doesn't feel for him.
- He decides to turn out the lights, and she forces her body to respond to his.
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