Offred goes downstairs, passing the eye-like mirror. She kneels in the sitting room. The room is luxuriously decorated in Serena Joy’s mixed style of quality and sentimentality. Serena Joy’s perfume, Lily of the Valley, smells like innocent girlishness, which makes Offred sick. Offred wishes she could steal something, to have a bit of power.
As with the childish scarves, Serena Joy’s perfume reflects her profound longing for a baby, as well as the way that babylike things in Gilead are so rare that they are valuable and beautiful.
Cora, Rita and Nick enter. Nick touches his foot to Offred’s. Nick touches again and Offred moves again, unsure of his intentions. Serena Joy arrives in a flower-trimmed dress, but Offred thinks that Serena Joy should accept that she’s “withered” instead of bedecking herself with plants’ reproductive organs.
Although Offred just wished she could rebel and have a bit of power, when Nick makes a possibly rebellious gesture, Offred doesn’t participate. Nonetheless, she rebels against Serena Joy mentally.
The Commander is late, so Serena Joy turns on the TV news, which shows the Angels attacking the Baptists in the Appalachians. Offred isn’t sure if the TV shows reality or if everyone’s an actor. The TV then shows thousands of “Children of Ham” being transported to some kind of camp in North Dakota.
The battles against the Baptists that Ofglen alluded to in Chapter 4 continue. The television doesn’t try to disguise the situation, instead showing Gilead in all its might.
Offred retreats into a memory, when she still had her old name. She imagines getting into a car with her daughter and Luke, pretending to be going to a picnic, but secretly planning to escape to Canada, with fake passports all prepared. Luke sings confidently, but Offred is petrified.
This memory demonstrates that, despite their differences, Luke and Offred complemented each other’s personalities. Even before becoming a Handmaid, Offred tended to be scared.