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The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 4 Summary

Shopping

  • The narrator leaves the house, passing the driveway, where a Guardian named Nick is washing the Commander's fancy car. Nick has a cigarette. He lives there and works for them but has a little bit of an attitude. The narrator is suspicious of him.
  • Their eyes meet and he winks at her. She's not sure what this means. He could be an Eye (a spy).
  • She gets to the street corner and waits, thinking of Aunt Lydia.
  • Another woman arrives, dressed the same as the narrator. They greet each other and go into town. They have to travel in twos to keep tabs on each other.
  • This woman, Ofglen, has been meeting the narrator for two weeks. Before that, she met another woman, and she doesn't know what happened to her.
  • Their chat reveals they are Handmaids and their country is at war. As they walk, they pass some men called Guardians of the Faith, who are like policemen-spies. They are overzealous and killed a woman the previous week.
  • Rita and Cora talked about this, criticizing it.
  • The women show the guards their passes to get through a barrier, and one tries to look at the narrator. This is forbidden but she enjoys it. She thinks of forbidden actions.
  • As they walk away, she sways her hips to taunt the men, who have no outlets for their sexual urges.

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