Study Guide

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 40

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Chapter 40


  • Later that night it's hot and muggy. The narrator's dressed in her Handmaid clothes, waiting in her room in the dark.
  • At midnight Serena Joy taps on the door, just like they planned. Without speaking, they walk through the house. At the door, Serena Joy gives the narrator directions, tells her she'll keep watch, and says the coast is clear.
  • The narrator goes outside by herself to the garage, where Nick is.
  • The narrator says he brings her in, turns out the lights, undresses her, and they begin to make love, which makes her feel again.
  • Then she says that's not what actually happened. He brings her in and gives her a drag on his cigarette. It feels awkward. Their talk turns into quotes from old movies, and the narrator begins to cry. Nick comforts her.
  • He brings her to the bed and tells her they'll do this without being "romantic." She understands that to mean they won't die for each other. She bids him farewell internally even as they begin.
  • Then she says even that isn't exactly what happened; it's a "reconstruction." She thought about how Serena Joy would think of her as a slut.
  • Now, she thinks, she's betrayed Luke, whether he's alive or not. She wishes for ignorance.

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