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.
The Color Red Quotes in The Handmaid’s Tale
The The Handmaid’s Tale quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Color Red. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin Company edition of The Handmaid’s Tale published in 1986.).
The Color Red Symbol Timeline in The Handmaid’s Tale
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Color Red appears in The Handmaid’s Tale. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.