Study Guide

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 43

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Chapter 43


  • The executions have finished. Unusually, Aunt Lydia has another announcement: she says the Handmaids should get in a circle and the other women will watch.
  • The narrator doesn't want to participate, but it's too dangerous not to.
  • Aunt Lydia says there is going to be a Particicution. They can do whatever they want between two blows of the whistle. A man is brought out, his face so beaten that it's unrecognizable. He seems drugged.
  • Aunt Lydia says he raped two Handmaids, one of whom was pregnant, and her baby didn't make it.
  • This horrifies all present, even the narrator. She didn't want to participate before but she's touched by the communal anger around her.
  • Aunt Lydia blows her whistle, but no one moves. The narrator looks at the man. She doesn't want to hurt him, because a man she loved could easily be in that position.
  • The man manages to say a few words before the Handmaids run at him. Ofglen runs to the front, knocks him over, and kicks him in the head.
  • The narrator pulls back, appalled. Everything is chaos. When she and Ofglen are beside each other again, the narrator reprimands her. Ofglen replies that the man was on their side and she was just helping him so he wouldn't feel the worst of it.
  • The whistle blows again and it's over. Aunt Lydia tells them to leave in an orderly manner.
  • Janine passes them. She's bloody and out of her mind, disengaged from reality. The narrator can't help her. She's upset.
  • Back at home the narrator wants to wash her hands. She's hungry and wants to feel, even though it appalls her.

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