The Handmaids Tale
Margaret Atwood
Contributed by Marshall Raine
Chapter 21

The room where Janine is expected to give birth is very crowded, and noisy. Offred feels disturbed with the situation because she is mostly subjected to solitude, thus there is a sharp contrast between her current and normal environment. The handmaids chant various words which help Janine to relax, and the birthmaids check her contractions. She soon delivers, and the Commander’s wife takes the baby immediately, naming her Angela which most of the members in the room perceive as a sweet name. After giving birth, Janine will be allowed to nurse the baby for a few months before she is transferred to a new commander. The exercise is customarily undertaken to see if she will be in a position to do the same with another Commander and their child. No physical deformities were noted on the child, something that brings great relief to the handmaids as otherwise she would be branded as an ‘Unwoman’ and sent to the colonies. 


The chapter adequately captures the plight of women in society. The statement can be evidenced by the fact that a woman was expected to deliver a child who had no type of deformity. By producing a child with any deformity, this meant that the woman had a problem, and that it was required of her to be sent to the colonies to face a fate far worse than death. The burden of childbirth was all placed upon the woman, and there was no instance where the man is blamed on the deformities found in the child. In Janine’s case, soon after nursing the child for a couple of months she will be transferred to another commander who will also try to have a baby with her. Through this, the author aims to showcase how women are not in control of their own bodies, and that society dictates what should be done to them.

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