The Handmaids Tale
Margaret Atwood
Contributed by Marshall Raine
Chapter 13

Offred is bored after dinner and tries to find something that could keep her occupied, and at that moment she remembers paintings of women in harem pants. Her initial thought about the paintings was that they were used to showcase eroticism, but at that moment she realizes that they depicted boredom in women, a boredom she can easily emphasize with. Soon after, she began thinking of the events which took place in the Red Center where she went with Moira. The gathering was made up of women who had to share and admit something about their past. Janine tells a horrific story of being gang-raped whilst only fourteen years old, but instead of showing empathy, the other women blamed and laughed at her.


The significant message from the chapter is that women are observed as their own enemies. This means that they are unable to support the interests of each other, and this is the reason men are still dominating them. An example can be perceived with Janine’s story, instead of supporting her they instead put the blame firmly at her doorstep. They fail to consider the fact that they have the right to fight for how they want their body treated. By championing and fighting for their rights, they would be able to prevent the dominating nature of men, but the women fail to see this, and end up branding her a crybaby when she breaks down during the re-telling of the story. The welfare of women of Gilead is defined by the spiritual, and the societal doctrines. Thus, this is the reason Offred is not pleased with the fact that she menstruates because the society perceives it as a failure, a failure to conceive a child, a mission that is all handmaids are good for.

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