Study Guide

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

Waiting Room

  • More bodies appear on the Wall: a priest and two Gender Treachery practitioners. The narrator tells Ofglen they should leave.
  • Ofglen says, "It's a beautiful May day" (8.7). The narrator responds abstractly while remembering talking with Luke about the origin of the word Mayday. It's something ships called for, for help. He said it was from the French m'aidez, or "help me."
  • Ofglen and the narrator pass a funeral march of three women, all Econowives. They are conducting a funeral for a fetus that died at just a few months.
  • They keep walking and part ways. It seems like Ofglen's about to say something when they part, but she doesn't.
  • The narrator pauses by Nick on her way inside. He asks her a question, but she just nods.
  • She goes inside and thinks about Serena Joy. She doesn't like the name and knows it's fake. She also knows there was an assassination attempt on Serena Joy, who used to be famous years ago. She preached about women staying in the home. Luke found her amusing but the narrator thought she was frightening.
  • Serena Joy is becoming less and less beautiful and doesn't greet the narrator at all when she passes.
  • The narrator recalls how Aunt Lydia said the Wives were more dangerous than the husbands, and that Handmaids should feel for them. Aunt Lydia said the future was "in [their] hands."
  • The narrator takes her basket into the kitchen, where Rita is chopping carrots. Its smells remind her of her own kitchen and motherhood. She tells Rita about the oranges.
  • Rita takes her to the kitchen and says it's bath day. Cora comes in. They talk about the chicken and the chores, including giving the narrator her bath.
  • The narrator leaves, passing through the hallway on her way to her room.
  • She sees the Commander. He's out of context and shouldn't be there; she doesn't know how to respond or what to do.
  • She thinks he was in her room, unused to thinking of it as hers.

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