The Handmaids Tale
Margaret Atwood
Contributed by Marshall Raine
Chapter 4

The chapter begins with Offred leaving the house and describes vividly everything that she experiences. Before reaching the gate, she notices Nick, a man servant in the for the home, washing a black car while smoking a cigarette. The chapter describes Nick as an individual of low social class by pointing out that he lives in a garage. As Offred walks towards the gate, there is an awkward moment between the two, making Offred wonder about what happens. Nick whistles and winks at her, something that is perceived as a taboo in the society, and something that could land him in serious trouble. Offred instantly thinks that it is some form of test, and that Nick was an Eye, a spy for the powers that be (Atwood, 1985). Soon after, she meets Ofglen, and they proceed to town, discussing the war, and the impact of the security measures set in place. They also talk of how the guardians are starved of sex, and how becoming an Angel could enable them to get a handmaid of their own.


The chapter articulately highlights the importance of morals in society, and how strict the laws of Gilead are, this can be seen because the mere act of Nick’s whistling and winking is a punishable crime. On the other hand, Offred and Ofglen exchange pleasantries carefully to ensure they do not associate themselves with anything unorthodox. The effects of war are also given key consideration as the author highlights the two sides which come along with overprotective acts of safety, protected themselves at all costs. This can be observed from the argument by Rita, and Cora.  Furthermore, the author explores how sexuality is being used to bend rules. At the checkpoint, Offred flirts by maintaining eye contact, again something perceived as an infraction of the rules in the draconian society.

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