The Handmaid's Tale
How we cite our quotes:
Something to fill the time, at night, instead of sitting alone in my room. It's something else to think about. I don't love the Commander or anything like it, but he's of interest to me, he occupies space, he is more than a shadow. (26.22)
Sometimes it seems like there isn't room for love in a place like Gilead anymore. Again, the narrator protests she doesn't love the Commander. But earlier she defined her feeling for him in terms of an absence of hatred. Now it's because he "occupies space." He is something to think about. Yet her interest is still just faint praise.
So Luke: what I want to ask you now, what I need to know is, Was I right? Because we never talked about it. By the time I could have done that, I was afraid to. I couldn't afford to lose you. (28.118)
In a rare moment of real bitterness, the narrator questions her relationship with Luke, wondering how the social changes altered what was between them, and whether he had been complicit at all when her rights were removed. She wonders what this did to their love, even though it's a question that's too late to answer now.
What did we overlook?
Love, I said.
Love? said the Commander. What kind of love?
Falling in love, I said. The Commander looked at me with his candid boy's eyes. (34.9-12)
The narrator reminds the Commander that they live in a society without love. For her the capacity for love is a huge part of how you form an identity and make a life. This is something that doesn't matter to the Commander, which emphasizes the great divide between them. Yet another reason she could never feel love for him.