The Handmaids Tale
Margaret Atwood
Contributed by Marshall Raine
Chapter 16

The chapter begins by the author affirming that the procreating ceremony continues, and the audience is immediately taken to the bedroom where Serena, Offred, and the Commander are. The author provides a detailed analysis of the situation and points out that both the Commander and Offred are fully dressed apart from their underwear. Offred lies between Serena’s thighs, and the commander begins to have sex with her, an act that she cannot fully comprehend as rape as it is her duty. She believes he is also simply doing his duty and thus she tries to take her mind off the situation. The commander has sex with Offred briefly, then closes his zip, and leaves the room (Atwood, 1985). There is no kissing or emotion shown in the ceremony, simply done for the aim of conceiving a child. Soon after the commander leaves the room, Serena orders Offred out of the room, and fails to adhere to the ten-minute resting period which enhances the chances of conception.


The chapter correctly showcases that romance is not something of significance in Gilead. From the description of the events, the commander tried as much as possible to minimize body contact during the entire process. Offred, despite being against the activity, kept trying to classify it, wondering whether it was love-making, copulation, or rape. There is also an obvious feeling of jealously that radiates from Serena. Soon after the Commander leaves the room, she does not provide Offred ample time to relax, meditate and increase the chances of conception. Instead she orders her to leave the room immediately.

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