Study Guide

The Handmaid's Tale Chapter 9

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Chapter 9

Waiting Room

  • So the narrator accepts the room as her own, although it's obviously not where she would choose to be.
  • She thinks of how another woman lived there before her. When she arrived, she explored the room as slowly as she could. She thinks of hotel rooms, how she used to meet Luke at them before they got married, when he was with his first wife. They loved each other.
  • She can't think about him too much, so she thinks about the rooms, where they were free to do as they liked.
  • The narrator divides the room into sections, and each day she looks at a new one. One day she finds sex stains on the mattress. This proof of love (or at least sex) made her think of Luke. The room is supposed to be suicide-proof.
  • When she explores the cupboard, she notices hooks you could hang yourself on and some writing scratched on the floor, maybe in Latin: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. She savors this piece of text from the past and imagines the woman who wrote it to be like her friend Moira from before the war.
  • After the narrator discovers the message, she asks Rita what happened to the woman before her. Rita doesn't reveal much, just that there'd been a few women there before her, and not all of them had stayed for the two years they were supposed to. Rita won't say what happened to the last woman... just that "she didn't work out" (9.26).

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