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)
Apart from these details, this could be a college guest room, for the less distinguished visitors; or a room in a rooming house, of former times, for ladies in reduced circumstances. That is what we are now. The circumstances have been reduced; for those of us who still have circumstances. (2.5)
This is a house, not a home. The room is not individual or personal or welcoming. Any Handmaid could live there, and more than one has. While on one hand the privilege of a single room can be seen as one of the few things left to Handmaids, it also denies them companionship and conversation.
The door of the room – not my room, I refuse to say my – is not locked. In fact it doesn't shut properly. I go out into the polished hallway, which has a runner down the center, dusty pink. Like a path through the forest, like a carpet for royalty, it shows me the way. (2.9)
The narrator emphasizes how she uses language to retain a small amount of control over her situation. She may not be able to decide much else about her life, but she can control her possessive pronouns. In this case, she refuses to think of the room she's been assigned as hers.
Her speeches were about the sanctity of the home, about how women should stay home. Serena Joy didn't do this herself, she made speeches instead, but she presented this failure of hers as a sacrifice she was making for the good of all. (8.21)
Hypocritically, Serena Joy advocated for women to "stay home" while having a career herself. The narrator later comments on how Serena Joy gets hers when she's forced to stay home all day during the Gileadean regime.