The head of the household where Offred serves as a Handmaid, and husband of Serena Joy. The Commander has gray hair, wears a black suit, and looks “like a Midwestern bank president.” Though he is a high-ranking official of Gilead who may have played a large role in its construction, he breaks many laws, including going to the sex club Jezebel’s (and at least once hiring Moira), and spending time with Offred. Though he attributes many of his misogynistic attitudes to “Nature,” he cares for Offred’s well being, and often wants to know her opinion on controversial matters.
The Commander Quotes in The Handmaid’s Tale
The The Handmaid’s Tale quotes below are all either spoken by The Commander or refer to The Commander. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Houghton Mifflin Company edition of The Handmaid’s Tale published in 1986.).
The Commander Character Timeline in The Handmaid’s Tale
The timeline below shows where the character The Commander appears in The Handmaid’s Tale. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...part in hair, and the worms remind Offred of fertility. The Guardian assigned to the Commander, Nick, polishes the Commander’s fancy Whirlwind car. Nick demonstrates a touch of irreverence by rolling... (full context)
...pregnant with air. Offred lies between Serena Joy’s (clothed) legs, and they hold hands. The Commander has sex with Offred’s lower body, in an impersonal, disjointed style, which Offred doesn’t call... (full context)
...five foot seven, and brown-haired. Offred realizes she now has the power to ask the Commander for some things. She remembers Aunt Lydia suggesting, but never saying outright, that “men are... (full context)
...she’s running out of time for a baby, and then daringly suggests that perhaps the Commander “can’t.” The women make eye contact, and Serena Joy suggests that Offred try with another... (full context)
...the Prayvaganza, Ofglen whispers to Offred that she knows about Offred’s secret meetings with the Commander. Ofglen is curious if they’re having illicit sex, and Offred doesn’t confess what’s really happening,... (full context)
...the bathroom and hugs Offred, with her familiar no-nonsense attitude. Moira has slept with Offred’s Commander before, and says Commanders bring Handmaids as a “power trip,” though Offred believes he has... (full context)
...always thankful to him for receiving her. She sometimes went over just after seeing the Commander. She sketches out a typical Nick encounter. They have sex right away and talk afterward.... (full context)
Historical Notes on the Handmaid’s Tale
...worked on television like Serena Joy. Waterford seems to be more likely to be the Commander. The authorities killed him after Offred’s departure, for owning banned magazines and books and for... (full context)