Study Guide

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 24

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Chapter 24


  • The narrator goes back to her room. She keeps her dress on because it helps her think. She wishes she had perspective and is worried she's losing hold of herself. She calls herself Offred.
  • She thinks about what she knows about herself—hair color, height—and how she only has one more round as a Handmaid.
  • She imagines that Aunt Lydia would have advised her to take advantage of the Commander by preying on his sexual needs, but she can't focus on how to do that. Yet he's giving her an opportunity, which could be an escape or a trap, and she needs to take advantage of it.
  • She can't believe he wanted to play Scrabble and make out.
  • The narrator remembers a documentary she saw on TV with her mother when she was just a child. The subject of the documentary was a formerly beautiful woman who had been the mistress of a prominent Nazi. The Nazi was supposed to be a terrible man, and the woman said she didn't know about the concentration camps.
  • In the documentary the woman was very ill with emphysema, but she still tried to present herself well by wearing a lot of makeup. The narrator fantasizes about how the woman might have talked herself into becoming the Nazi's mistress. A few days after she was interviewed for the documentary, the narrator tells us, the woman committed suicide.
  • The narrator is about to get undressed when she feels herself overcome with hysterical laughter. If people heard her, who knows what the consequences would be. She stumbles into her closet and laughs into the red cloak. When her laughter stops, she finds the writing the other woman carved into the wall, and breathes.

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