Study Guide

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 5

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Chapter 5


  • They are now in the city of Gilead. This used to be a normal city, but now it looks eerily quiet and clean. There aren't any kids.
  • The narrator thinks about how she used to talk with Luke about buying a house and having a family, a freedom that's now a thing of the past.
  • They pass other women, Marthas and Econowives. She remembers how women used to be free to do things like go to laundromats. Now they are safeguarded and imprisoned.
  • They pass a store called Lilies, where they get their dresses, or habits. There aren't any words on the signs anymore because the society doesn't think women should read.
  • They wait in line to make purchases at Milk and Honey. The store has oranges, but the narrator can't buy them because she doesn't have the right tokens. Shopping is one of the only times when she might be able to see someone from her past life. She thinks of her friend Moira.
  • Two handmaids enter, one of whom is pregnant. Everyone in the store is focused on her. She's lucky but in danger; children are rare commodities.
  • Ofglen and the narrator pay for their food with tokens. As they leave, the narrator recognizes the pregnant woman. People called her Ofwarren, but her name was Janine.
  • The narrator and Ofglen go to All Flesh, where they get chicken and steak. They don't get shopping bags, which the narrator used to save. This memory makes her think of Luke and a small girl who was seemingly their daughter. The memory hurts her and she forces herself to stop thinking about it.
  • Outside some Japanese tourists pass by and gawk at them. The women are wearing short skirts and high heels, which are forbidden in the narrator's society.
  • The narrator and Ofglen refuse to let their picture be taken, and the narrator tells them they are happy.

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