The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale Marriage Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
As for my husband, she said, he's just that. My husband. I want that to be perfectly clear. Till death do us part. It's final. (3.36)
Here Serena Joy relies on a quotation from the marriage ceremony to remind the narrator of how little she should be able to enter into this standing relationship with the Commander. She asserts what power she has by emphasizing her status as the Commander's Wife.
Low status: he hasn't been issued a woman, not even one. He doesn't rate: some defect, lack of connections. But he acts as if he doesn't know this, or care. (4.6)
This society takes arranged marriages to a whole new level. The government decides how much action men get, if any. The fact that Nick doesn't seem to "care" about his lack of a female partner strikes the narrator as suspicious.
It's not the husbands you have to watch out for, said Aunt Lydia, it's the Wives. You should always try to imagine what they must be feeling. Of course they will resent you. It is only natural. Try to feel for them. (8.27)
Significantly, "Wives" is capitalized while "husbands" is not. Husbands have other jobs, but a Wife is a wife and a wife only. Marriage grants her a certain honorific status.