The color red appears constantly in the novel. Red is the color of the Handmaids, a color associated both with shame (think of The Scarlet Letter
) and with ripeness and fertility. Offred
expands the color’s symbolic power, using it to describe blood, sometimes as the life force that courses through her body, and sometimes as a marker of violence and death, like the blood on the executed criminals. One of the most common uses of the color is to describe the tulips in Serena Joy
’s garden. The flowers are sex organs, but their flourishing will be futile, since Serena Joy snips off their fruits.