The Handmaid’s Tale

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The Handmaid’s Tale Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Offred lies in bed, disturbed and aroused by her encounter with Nick. She remembers spending time with Luke when she was pregnant. She feels too dead to masturbate.
Offred prefers to remember than to take action, even when she’s by herself.
Themes
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Offred believes in several different fates for Luke. First she imagines Luke as a corpse lying in the forest, and hopes he had a quick death from a bullet. Then she imagines him alive in prison, worn down and old-looking, with a gash as red as tulips on his face. Finally she imagines him safely over the border, making contact with a Resistance movement. She imagines that Luke might find a way to send her a message and rescue her and their daughter. Offred keeps believes in all three possibilities for Luke at once, or else she feels that she can’t believe in anything.
Though Offred has previously said that she prefers not to hope (for example, in Chapter 12, when she thinks about her daughter), this passage shows her being both hopeful and maybe willfully blind. She misses out on one big possibility—maybe Luke is now working for Gilead. But Offred would prefer to idealize Luke, and maintain her love for him as a form of escapism.
Themes
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon