The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale Marriage Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
In the afternoons, when Luke was still in flight from his wife, when I was still imaginary for him. Before we were married and I solidified. I would always get there first.
I was nervous. How was I to know he loved me? It might be just an affair. Why did we ever say just? Though at that time men and women tried each other on, casually, like suits, rejecting whatever did not fit. (9.7-8)
The different kinds of relationships between men and women are contrasted here. Gilead is a first marriage-only world. An initial marriage is permanent, and there are no givebacks. At the other end of the spectrum is the time before, when "men and women tried each other on, casually." But it seems like for the narrator and Luke, marriage is what makes her "solidified," what makes her real.
To be asked to play Scrabble, instead, as if we were an old married couple, or two children, seemed kinky in the extreme, a violation in its own way. As a request it was opaque. (25.40)
The "violation" for the narrator here isn't a request for "kinky" sex or something that's otherwise outside her comfort zone. It's acting like "an old married couple" that freaks her out and makes her uncomfortable – partly because she can't figure out what the Commander wants out of it.
She disapproved of Luke, back then. Not of Luke but of the fact that he was married. She said I was poaching, on another woman's ground. I said Luke wasn't a fish or a piece of dirt either, he was a human being and could make his own decisions. She said I was rationalizing. I said I was in love. (28.3)
Whose side should we be on here, Moira's or the narrator's? Since the novel is in the first person, and the narrator is in the position of the "other woman," we tend to sympathize with her. But even though they disagree on this point, and try to take different paths, both end up in the Women's Center and at Jezebel's, so their old differences don't seem to matter in this new world.