The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Or I would help Rita make the bread, sinking my hands into that soft resistant warmth which is so much like flesh. I hunger to touch something, other than cloth or wood. I hunger to commit the act of touch. (2.25)
The narrator transmutes her "hunger" for something edible, bread, to what would really nourish her: touch, and, correspondingly, love. She wants to touch and be touched, to remind herself of her body and of the feelings that can develop from that sort of tactile sensation.
She could get one of those [bags] over her head, he'd say. You know how kids like to play. She never would, I'd say. She's too old. (Or too smart, or too lucky.) But I would feel a chill of fear, and then guilt for having been so careless. It was true, I took too much for granted; I trusted fate, back then. (5.30)
Before the Republic of Gilead, the narrator and Luke had the luxury of small worries. They could express their concerns about their daughter, which implied their love for her. They didn't have to worry about their love. In hindsight, they were naïve and didn't realize how lucky there were.
What I feel towards them is blankness. What I feel is that I must not feel. What I feel is partly relief, because none of these men is Luke. Luke wasn't a doctor. Isn't. (6.25)
The narrator's complex feelings here stem mostly from her relief she feels that there's no conclusive proof that the man she loves died that day. This specific relief overshadows other feelings, such as revulsion, perhaps. In the next sentence, though, she catches herself referring to Luke in the past tense rather than the present.