Offred and Ofglen walk to the Women’s Prayvaganza, and Offred is aware of how pleasantly identical they look. She remembers playing with dandelions with her daughter. The rows of women going through the checkpoint look like overgrown students. The Prayvaganza takes place in a courtyard on the Harvard campus. Ofglen tells Offred to sit with her in the back, so they can talk.
The childlike imagery of the Handmaids, all in uniform like students, is an abrupt reminder of the eggs that had to break to allow the Commander and other men to have feelings again. The new rules don’t just make women powerless; they make them all like children.
Ofglen points out that Janine is with a new Wife, because the baby girl turned out to be “a shredder.” Ofglen tells Offred that Janine had sex with a doctor for the baby, and now she thinks that she’s being punished for her sins. Offred thinks that Janine reacted that way to avoid feeling like her life is meaningless, like she isn’t in a story.
As usual, Offred both hates Janine and has unusual, even sympathetic, insight into her situation. Offred realizes that everyone wants to be in a story with a comprehensible plot. Offred’s storytelling allows her that artificial feeling.
Offred goes into a flashback from the Rachel and Leah Center. Janine sat on the bed in a trance, whispering greetings like a waitress. Moira slapped her to try to bring her back to the present, telling her that she’d get killed right away for such behavior. Janine began to get dressed, and Moira instructed Offred to make sure Janine stayed in reality, because that behavior was “catching.”
Janine’s form of rebellion isn’t active and considered like Ofglen’s, but emotional and reflexive. Offred’s behavior is between those two extremes. She wants to be reasonable, but she lacks Moira’s independent thinking.