The Handmaid’s Tale

by

Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid’s Tale: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Offred returns to her bedroom and finds her pat of butter half-melted in her shoe. She rubs the butter into her face as moisturizer, since she isn’t permitted any makeup of lotion, for the sake of the Wives. Offred learned about the butter at the Rachel and Leah Center, which she explains was also called the Red Center.
When Offred finally does complete her rebellious action, it’s just for her own comfort (and maybe beauty). Sadly, her Red Center peers didn’t manage to impart any more meaningful schemes.
Themes
Rebellion Theme Icon
Offred lies in bed, imagining the plastered eye in her ceiling staring at her. She looks at the moon and profoundly misses Luke, and decides to steal something.
Offred’s love for Luke gives her the emotional capacity to take a more decisive action.
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Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Offred carefully walks downstairs and resolves to steal a daffodil. She hears Nick’s footsteps. They’re both breaking the rules. They touch each other. Offred longs to do more, thinking of Nick as Luke in another body, but she’s afraid. Nick says he was coming to tell Offred to go see the Commander tomorrow.
Though Offred’s thoughts of Luke may have brought about her rebellious moment, she immediately begins acting sexually with Nick. As with the blood and tulips in Chapter 6, separate entities seem to merge.
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Fertility Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon