The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale The Home Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
So the hotels, with Luke, didn't mean only love or even only sex to me. They also meant time off from the cockroaches, the dripping sink, the linoleum that was peeling off the floor in patches, even from my own attempts to brighten things up by sticking posters on the wall and hanging prisms in the windows. (28.4)
Being with Luke made the narrator feel at home in the hotels they went to. Even though hotels are temporary places of residence, they functioned as escapes from the narrator's dreary house. Ironically, the narrator would probably kill to be back in her old dump after a few days at the Commander's.
I wandered through the house, from room to room. I remember touching things, not even that consciously, just placing my fingers on them; things like the toaster, the sugar bowl, the ashtray in the living room. (28.65)
In her shock at losing her job and her money – in short, all her rights – the narrator "wander[s] through the house" and touches random objects. Notice here, significantly, that it's no longer "her house," it's "the house." Already her ownership seems to be slipping away.
The night before we left the house, that last time, I was walking through the rooms. Nothing was packed up, because we weren't taking much with us and we couldn't afford even then to give the least appearance of leaving. So I was just walking through, here and there, looking at things, at the arrangement we had made together, for our life. I had some idea that I would be able to remember, afterwards, what it had looked like. (30.8)
This house isn't just home for Luke and the narrator. It symbolizes "the arrangement [they] had made together, for [their] life." The house represents the way they envisioned their life being, and now they have to leave its security behind as they move into an unknown future.