The Handmaids Tale
Margaret Atwood
Contributed by Marshall Raine
Chapter 15

The commander arrives home and takes a bible from a locked box before sitting down on his chair, a chair always reserved for him. The Commander then begins to read aloud a bible passage to his household, something that happens regularly.

Soon after the commander finishes reading the bible, Serena begins to cry. It is her tendency to cry every evening before the ceremony. She tries to control herself and uphold her dignity before the household, but she is unable. The chapter ends with a joint prayer where the commander calls upon everyone to pray. Offred does not know exactly what to say to God, thus her prayer is the small Latin passage that she had found in her room, a message written by the previous handmaid, words that she still cannot understand.


In the chapter, it is indicated that Serena Joy is used to crying in the evening after the bible passage has been read aloud in the household ceremony. This could imply that there is something about the ceremony that awakens her emotions, and deeply upsets her. This is however not made clear in the chapter. The commander is portrayed as being capable of providing leadership to the family. He is described as being like a boot that is hard from outside but soft from inside to protect the tender foot. The household looks up to him and looks to him to lead them in prayer.

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