The Handmaid’s Tale

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The Handmaid’s Tale Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The gray-haired, neat Commander arrives, wearing a black suit. He unlocks the Bible from its box and sits down to read. Offred tries to imagine his point of view, scrutinized like this. She imagines his penis as a slug eye. She knows he’s very powerful, and can’t tell if his position is fine or hellish. The Commander reads biblical passages about fertility.
In our first real-time glimpse of the Commander, Offred pictures his sexuality as disgusting and crude. Her mental rebellions seem to help her cope with the pressure of the meeting, as she is the one who’s supposed to bring fertility.
Themes
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Religion and Theocracy Theme Icon
Fertility Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
Offred has a flashback to the Rachel and Leah Center, and remembers listening to a tape recording of the Beatitudes at lunch, clearly an edited version, although Offred wasn’t sure what had been omitted.
The edited biblical passages show that the government of Gilead isn’t simply trying to interpret the Bible, but to twist it to suit their politicized goals and interpretations.
Themes
Religion and Theocracy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Offred remembers meeting up again with Moira in the bathroom. Moira planned to escape by pretending to be sick, and perhaps trying to seduce the ambulance drivers.
Offred, too, has fantasies about seducing men to gain power, but only Moira dared to try.
Themes
Rebellion Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Back in the present time, the Commander finishes reading. Offred imagines the bible pages feeling powder-paper makeup. Serena Joy silently cries. As Offred prays “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum,” she remembers seeing Moira carried to an ambulance for appendicitis at the Rachel and Leah Center. Right afterwards, Moira was dragged back into the Rachel and Leah Center and the staff severely tortured her feet. The other Handmaids stole sugar for her in a gesture of solidarity. Back in present time, the Commander dismisses the household.
Moira, like Offred in her way, is more interested in saving her own skin than organizing the other Handmaids into revolution. Moira’s escape and capture may have led the other Handmaids into the small-scale rebellion of stealing, but on the whole, the severity of her punishment may have actually made the Handmaids more afraid.
Themes
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
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