Study Guide

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 35

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Chapter 35


  • Back at the Commander's house, the narrator waits. She feels like an "invalid" and makes a play on the word, as in "not valid."
  • She has a flashback to when she and Luke and their daughter try to cross the border. They have fake passports. They get to the border and give them to a guard, who takes them inside a building. Their daughter sleeps in the back, Luke gets out to take a closer look, and the narrator smokes. She prays they'll get through.
  • Suddenly Luke jumps back in the car and speeds them away. Luke says the man with their passports had grabbed the phone.
  • The narrator says she doesn't want to talk about this anymore and stops. She rationalizes that she doesn't have to do anything. She thinks of her Latin phrase and how it didn't help her predecessor.
  • She wonders what the point of fighting is.
  • Back in another flashback, the narrator and the Commander talk about love. The narrator ponders how special it is, and how even when it's fleeting it's worth it. Even the scary stories you hear don't take away from its specialness.
  • The narrator considers how she might have broken up with Luke, but they never got the chance. She thinks about how if he'd died in battle she'd at least have a body. Then she scolds herself for referring to him as though he doesn't belong in her present anymore.
  • The narrator snaps back to the present and cries. She calls herself a "refugee from the past" (35.26).
  • A knock on the door and Serena Joy comes in. This is a surprise. She brings the narrator a Polaroid picture of her daughter.
  • The narrator thinks about how people like her won't be in pictures anymore.
  • Her daughter has grown a lot, and the narrator realizes she'll have forgotten her.
  • She's so hurt by the realization that her life is meaningless to her daughter that she wishes she hadn't seen the picture at all.
  • The narrator eats. She never has a knife.

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