Study Guide

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 3

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Chapter 3


  • The narrator passes through the nice garden, which belongs to the Commander's Wife. She thinks about the garden she used to have and about the Commander's Wife, who spends a lot of time knitting.
  • She met the Commander's Wife five weeks earlier, when she arrived from a prior, similar situation. Someone called a Guardian dropped her off.
  • She came in the front door but now she uses the back. The Commander's Wife, not a Martha, let her in grudgingly.
  • The narrator doesn't speak to the Commander's Wife, but watches her smoke. Smoking is illegal and the narrator isn't supposed to have alcohol or coffee either.
  • The Commander's Wife and the narrator talk. We learn that this is the narrator's third assignment; the first two didn't work out. The Commander's Wife lays down the ground rules: stay out of the way, treat this as just business, and leave her husband alone.
  • The narrator thinks they wouldn't have liked each other in the life before. She recognizes the Commander's Wife as a woman called Serena Joy, who was on a Gospel TV show the narrator watched when she was little.

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