The Handmaids Tale
Margaret Atwood
Contributed by Marshall Raine
Chapter 46

Offred waits in her room as night falls, unsure of what her punishment will be (Atwood, 2004). She starts imagining how she could set the whole house on fire and end her life in that manner, or climb out of the window, or hang herself, or simply break down and cry in the presence of the Commander. When she stands, she sees a van adorned with a winged logo coming to the house – The Eye. Two men come and ring the doorbell a sound that makes Offred wish that she had killed herself. Nick enters the room, and Offred is overwhelmed with a sense of hatred, assuming that he was part of the Eye all along. However, he urges her to trust him, and tells her that the men in the van are part of the Mayday resistance. The Commander and Serena are visibly shocked and confused, as neither of them had called for the Eye. The Commander tries to intervene and ask for a warrant but is simply brushed aside and told that there is hardly need for a warrant concerning the “violation of state secrets.” Offred is led out to the van by the two men and left to await an unknown future.


It is clear that Offred’s imagination actually hinders her from gaining independence. For instance, she sees death as her only way out that or by gaining favor from the Commander. The fact that the Commander tries to prevent the Eye from seizing Offred; and his state of confusion as he tries to piece everything together, suddenly turns him into a sympathetic character, trying to shield Offred from the uncertain fate that lies ahead of her. To some extent, the Commander’s reactions show that he may be realizing the impracticality of some of the theocratic laws that he set himself, as it is nearly impossible for every person to obey. The ending leaves the readers in anticipation of what will happen to Offred now that she has left the commander’s house, giving the reader an insight to the uncertainty that Offred had to face every day.

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