The chapter begins to tell us that during this time period certain music is forbidden in Gilead. Now at this time in the book we know the role play of the “Handmaids” The “Handmaids” are used to bear their children to the Commanders. Aunt Linda tells the girls about the how harsh women used to get treated before Gilead, and also told about the women about papers she read about women get murdered and raped. Aunt Linda could just be saying all this to make the girls believe they are in the best place. These girls living in Gilead could not listen to certain music and have not gotten to read in a while because it is banned.
Every month the women are taken to the doctor for tests like “urine, hormones, cancer smear, and blood test.” There are also three other “Handmaids” in the waiting room and they all look to see who has been lucky enough to get pregnant. This shows that these women have an obsession with wanting to be fertile. These women’s jobs are to have children for the commanders so if they cannot have kids then they are worthless. The women are there to have children for the commanders because they are not able to. While the women are getting checked by the doctor, they cover their face so that the doctor can only see their torso. Also, the doctors are not allowed to speak to the women unless it is absolutely necessary, but the doctor examining Offred breaks this rule. This doctor tries to say he wants to help Offred by getting her pregnant, but Offred suggests that she does not want to get in trouble and get hung. She is afraid because the doctor can put false dignoses on the chart which could cause problems for Offred because she is supposed to have children for the Commaders. If the doctor puts false reports she could be sent to the colonies with the other “unwomen.” An “unwomen” is considered worthless to the Republic’s needs since they cannot bear children. During this time “sterile” is illegeal to call men because men are the head of the Gilead. If the women cannot have children they are called “barren” even if was the man’s fault for being “sterile” but you are not allowed to say that the man was unable to have children.
The women had required bath days but did not have a mirror, razor or a lock on the door. While lying in the bath, Offred has flashbacks when someone tried to take her child at the supermarket which could be forshadowing the fact that the Gilead took her child when she was five. Offred believes thinking of her child as dead helps ease the situation, so she does not have to think about someone else raising her child. During this time, she believes her child is around eight years old, and she belives they told her daughter that her mom was dead. Aunt Linda tells Offred that “she gets too attached to this material world and you forget about your spiritual values.” I think Aunt Linda is making an allusion to the bible, “Set your mind on the things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2. I believe she is trying to say that Offred needs to remember that her spiritual beliefs are way more important than greifing over the loss of her child. After her bath, she eats supper without being able to drink “coffee or tea though, no alcohol.” Whatever the women do not eat are taken from them, but Offred sneaks some butter in her sock for later.
After dinner, Offred remembers “the obsession they had then with harems.” “Harems” is a “part of a Muslim palace or house reserved for the residents of women.” This statement could be making an allusion to the bible how Rachel could not bear a child, so her husband uses a “handmaid” so he could have a son. But come to find out, his wife Rachel ended up getting pregnant. This is how their became different biefs in their beliefs. This is the reasoning that the commanders believe that it is right that they use the “handmaids” because it occurred during the old testament. During the women’s rest time, Offred sees her best friend that is now a “handmaid” also. They have to tell about their testimony when Janine told everyone that she got raped by a gang when she was fourteen. The other women said it was her fault for “leading the men on” which is a start of feminism at this time. This shows how in Gilead, the women are starting to turn against each other. Offred talks about how “each month I watch for blood, fearfully, for when it comes it means failure. This means that Offred begins her menstrual cycle which occurs every month unless you are pregnant. That is why she says it is a failure because she still has not gotten to the opportunity to get pregnant which is her only job. Offred then has a flashback when she tried to run away through the woods with her daughter so they would not take her. When she heard shots fired they both hide, but the child begins to cry so they find them. Offred remembers them dragging her child away from her.
After the bell has finished, Offred walks to the sitting room where the whole household goes for their Ceremony. When they get into the sitting room, Offred kneels on the ground and Nick gets behind her. As they wait for the commander, Serena allows them to watch the news where they get to see only the bad stuff that is happening around them. They do this because they want all the people in the household to feel like they are in the best place when they really are not. While watching the news, Offred flashes back to when Luke and her got a fake passport to excape with their daughter. They gave their daughter sleeping medicine so they would not question her as they passed over the border. During this chapter, Atwood uses character’s names as allusions to the bible. Atwood uses “Angels of the Apocalypse,” “Baptsist gueriall,” “Angels of Light,” and “team of eyes.” The eyes are always watching the “Handmaids” like God always watches us from Heaven.
When the Commander enters the room, he unlocks the bible which is kept locked so no one will get it to read because reading is banned. They keep the Bible locked up because they do not want anyone to read the real truth about what is truly supposed to occur to bear a child. The Commander preaches about child bearing which makes sense because in the old testament “Genusis 30:1-3” talks about a man using a “handmaid” to be able to bear children. They want all the women to think that what they are doing to them is right because the Bible also did it. Moria and Offred meet in the second stall of the washroom because Moria is trying to plan an excape route by acting like she is sick so an ambulance will take her. Moria belives that the boys in the ambulance are starved from not having sex or anything. But Moria’s plan did not work because the Angel reported her, so she was punished for first offense which means she got her feet beat by steel cables. This shows how desperate girls are to get some attention to guys so they can get pregnant.
After the Bible reading, Offred is taken into the white canopy where Serena is sitting with her legs spread waiting on her. Offred lies between Serena’s legs, and Serena holds her tightly so it “signify that we are one flesh, one being.” Serena wants to feel connected because her husband is having sex with another women because she cannot have kids. Offred stays fully clothes besides her underwear is off and her skirt is pulled up to her waist. Offred has to lie there while the commander has sex with her, but this is not what Offred wants but she chooses this. Once the Commander finishes he immediately leaves the room and Serena hurries Offred to get out. Obviuolsly, this is not easy for either one of them but it is the life they live.
Offred is now sent back to her room where she removes the butter from her shoe and puts it on her face. The Commander’s wife do not allow any beauty product for the “handmaids” because they do not want them to look attractive. They do not want them to look attractive because the handmaids could look prettier than her and her husband would like her more. Afterwards, Offred decides to sneak out into the sitting room trying to steal a daffodil to take back and put under her bed for the next women. But while in the sitting room, Nick comes up behind her which is illegal for both of them. Nick touches on Offred, and she has not been touched with care in a long time. All she can think about is having sex with someone who actually cares for her, but all they can think about is the possibility of them being hung. Before they leave, Nick tells Offred to meet the Commander, but she does not understand what else the Commander wants from her.
Once Offred returns to her room, she remembers when Luke and she would lie in bed while their baby kicked inside her belly. It is hard for her to think of Luke in a positive way because it makes her want what she used to have back and have someone truly love her. She likes to think of Luke as being caught when they tried to escape so now he is dead, in prison, and she also imagines that he crossed the border safely and he will come back in an unexpected way. She tries to believe all these are true so that nothing will surprise her.
During breakfast, Offred sees a Birthmobil that is coming to pick her up. There are four women in the Birthmobil and one out of the four will have an “unbaby.” An unbaby is a child suffering from child birth defects or physical deformation. “Unbaby” is attatched to the former feminist “Unwomen” which are all sent to the feared colonies. The women are not given pain medicine because the commander’s wife says it will hurt the baby and God want them to feel the pain of childbirth. In Genesis 3:16 says, “To the women he said, I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing, in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” This bible verse shows why these women believe it is okay to put these women in these situation since it occurs in the Bible. Aunt Lydia shows how the birth rates are decending and why the “Handmaids” have to have children.
Offred remembers how Aunt Lydia made the women watch old “pornographic videos” which shows graffic sence of how women used to be treated. She played the films to make the women believe that “Gilead” is protecting them from the harsh world when the women in “Gilead” are also getting raped. Atwood says, “according to her ability, to each according to his needs” means that if the commander’s wife does not have the ability to meet his needs to have a child then he will use someone else who can reach his needs. When Offred says that this slogan was from the Bible it shows that Gilead is not fighting a real war, but they are fighting a war against true religions. In the bible, “Gilead is a very peaceful, clean, and fertile place in Palestine according to the Old Testament.” Gilead in this time is far from being peaceful and clean, but it is full of hatred and pollution of bad things floating around.
During this time, Ofwarren gives birth to a baby girl who looks like she has no defects, which is a relief. Since she gave birth to a child, she will never be declared an “unwomen” and have to go to the colonies. Ofwarren will be able to breast feed her child for a few months then the child will be transferred to the Commander. This shows how they are against Christianity because Mark 10:9 says “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” which tells that a child should be raised by their father and mother.