The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale Children Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
You were a wanted child, God knows, she would say at other moments. [...] She would say this a little regretfully, as though I hadn't turned out entirely as she'd expected. No mother is ever, completely, a child's idea of what a mother should be, and I suppose it works the other way around as well. (28.102)
While everyone else in the book is focused on producing more children, here the narrator thinks back to what it was like to be a child herself. She imagines what it would have been like to continue growing as a mother, a future she'll never know.
She'd like me pregnant though, over and done with and out of the way, no more humiliating sweaty tangles, no more flesh triangles under her starry canopy of silver flowers. (31.46)
A successful pregnancy for a Handmaid means a release, not just for her but for the household she serves. In a moment of businesslike empathy, the narrator understands that Serena Joy would be relieved if she got pregnant and they could stop having Ceremonies. But these "tangles" are "humiliating" and "sweaty" for the narrator, too.
But she exists, in her white dress. She grows and lives. Isn't that a good thing? A blessing? (35.36)
The narrator wonders here whether she's better off knowing that her daughter is still alive. On the one hand, she's fed and clothed and won't end up like the narrator. Yet she may as well be dead as far as she is concerned. The girl lives, but she's not her daughter any more.