The Handmaid’s Tale

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Moira Character Analysis

Offred’s best friend in college, a brave, opinionated feminist lesbian whom Offred encounters again at the Rachel and Leah Center. After one failed attempt, she manages to escape the Center and move along the Underground Femaleroad, but the Eyes capture and torture her. She decides to work as a prostitute rather than go to the Colonies (the Colonies are essentially a death sentence). When Offred sees her at Jezebel’s, it seems that the authorities have managed to break Moira’s spirit.
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Moira Character Timeline in The Handmaid’s Tale

The timeline below shows where the character Moira appears in The Handmaid’s Tale. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Rebellion Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...night, when the Aunts aren’t looking. They tell each other their names, including Janine and Moira. (full context)
Chapter 7
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
She remembers Moira in the time before Gilead, wearing overalls, an earring, one gold fingernail, and smoking. Moira... (full context)
Chapter 9
Rebellion Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...Handmaid who sent her the message, and happy to have received it. She thinks of Moira’s energy and freckles, and imagines that the previous Handmaid must have had freckles too. Offred... (full context)
Chapter 10
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Offred retreats into another memory, of Moira. In the memory, Moira is planning an “underwhore” party to sell sexy lingerie. Moira makes... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...something out the window at the Commander, then remembers dropping water-filled bags on boys with Moira in college. The Commander leaves, and Offred can’t quite figure out her feeling towards him,... (full context)
Chapter 12.
Religion and Theocracy Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
...Offred enjoys taking off her habit and wings and feeling her own hair. Offred remembers Moira’s disdain for pantyhose. (full context)
Chapter 13
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Religion and Theocracy Theme Icon
Offred remembers Moira’s arrival at the Rachel and Leah Center, three weeks after her own. She and Moira... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Religion and Theocracy Theme Icon
...peephole through the wall to the women’s bathroom, and she manages to make contact with Moira. (full context)
Chapter 15
Rebellion 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... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 21
Fertility Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
...other as they do so. Offred asks the Handmaid next to her if she knows Moira, but she doesn’t. Offred, too, feels pain like she’s about to give birth, as Aunt... (full context)
Chapter 22
Rebellion Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Offred flashbacks to Moira’s great escape from the Rachel and Leah Center. (This escape was Moira’s second attempt, after... (full context)
Rebellion Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Moira had managed to block a toilet, and called Aunt Elizabeth to see what was the... (full context)
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Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Offred imagines that Aunt Lydia told Janine to find out if Moira had an accomplice. Janine told one other Handmaid and the story spread. The Handmaids found... (full context)
Chapter 23
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...the end, the Commander thanks Offred and asks her to kiss him. Offred considers following Moira’s lead and making a weapon out of the toilet mechanism and killing the Commander next... (full context)
Chapter 28
Rebellion Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...about her encounter with Ofglen. She’s been given an electric fan, and she imagines that Moira would know how to make it into a weapon. Moira would probably dislike Offred’s deal... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Offred delves into a specific memory of talking to Moira in Offred’s kitchen. Offred worked at an insurance company and lived in a run-down house.... (full context)
Religion and Theocracy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...stop using the Constitution. Offred was shocked at the sudden collapse of the government, but Moira understood that there were deeper goals than chaos. (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Religion and Theocracy Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Offred returned home, restless and nervous. She managed to reach Moira, who had been working for a women’s publishing company. Moira came over, and explained that... (full context)
Chapter 31
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
...two Handmaids walk past Harvard’s Memorial Hall, which was once a student dining hall where, Moira once told Offred, women weren’t allowed to eat. (full context)
Chapter 33
Rebellion Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 34
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
...Center flashback. She remembers Aunt Lydia explaining that the women must work together, and then Moira making fun of her words in the bathroom, imagining that Aunt Lydia has made Janine... (full context)
Chapter 37
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
As Offred waits for her drink, she sees Moira across the room, wearing a slutty and disheveled animal costume. She looks bored, scanning the... (full context)
Chapter 38
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...fifteen minutes. Offred enters a ladies’ lounge, with has a mirror, unlike at her house. Moira comes out of the bathroom and hugs Offred, with her familiar no-nonsense attitude. Moira has... (full context)
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Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Moira tells Offred her story over two bathroom trips, and Offred tries to tell it to... (full context)
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The Quaker couple let Moira in, and gave her clothes, although they were nervous keeping her since they had two... (full context)
Religion and Theocracy Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
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Moira felt guilty that people were risking their lives for her, but her hosts explained that... (full context)
Religion and Theocracy Theme Icon
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They brought Moira to some other place that she doesn’t want to talk about. After torture, they showed... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Moira picked Jezebel’s over the Colonies. She’ll manage to stay there three or four years before... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Offred wishes she could tell her audience a story about Moira managing to escape or blowing up Jezebel’s. But Offred doesn’t know what became of Moira,... (full context)
Chapter 39
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...hotel room at Jezebel’s. Offred uses the bathroom and flashes back to her conversation with Moira. Moira saw Offred’s mother in one of the videos about the Colonies, which Moira thinks... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Offred remembers how, during college, Moira said she thought Offred’s mother was “neat” and even “cute.” Now Offred imagines her mother... (full context)
Historical Notes on the Handmaid’s Tale
Fertility Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...as a weapon). He relates the difficulty of finding anything more about Offred, Luke, Nick, Moira or Janine, as those may have been fake names. He suspects that Offred might have... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...consummate. Offred knows that Nick and Luke can’t be substituted for one another, and remembers Moira’s claim that people can’t control their feelings but can control their behavior. (full context)