Chapter summaries 25-47

Soul scrolls

Chapter 25

In the second half of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Offred is woken by Cora screaming. She had fallen asleep on the floor. Cora says she will pretend nothing happened. 

It is later in the summer now, and Offred and the Commander have a routine. When the Commander sends a signal to Offred through Nick, she sneaks downstairs to his study. She is still confused about what he wants. 

The second time she visited, they played Scrabble again and then the Commander gave her a forbidden women’s fashion magazine to read. The third time, she asked him for some hand lotion, which he gave to her on their fourth meeting. 

Chapter 26

When Offred’s fertile time of the month comes round again, she finds things are different. She feels self-conscious and guilty, and she worries that the Commander will accidentally reveal their relationship. While he is having sex with her, he puts his hand up as if to touch her face. Afterwards, she warns him never to do it again. Offred admits that despite the dangers, she is happier than she was before.

Chapter 27

Offred walks with Ofglen through the town. They walk past a Soul Scrolls shop, which uses machines to print prayers paid for by the Commanders and their wives. Ofglen and Offred look at each other’s reflections in the shop windows. When Ofglen asks Offred if she thinks God listens to the Soul Scrolls machines, Offred says no. They begin to talk. Ofglen suggests she is part of a resistance movement and says Offred could join them. On their way back, they see a man being arrested by the surveillance service. Offred feels relieved that it was not her. 

Chapter 28

Offred remembers her affair with Luke when he was still married, and how Moira disapproved of her having the affair. While Luke got a divorce, Offred lived in an apartment, which she paid for through her job in a library. She remembers how the Constitution was suspended when the President and the entire Congress were murdered. After that, newspapers were censored and roadblocks and identity passes were introduced. 

Then, one morning, she found her bank card no longer worked. The same day, all the women at her work were fired because women were no longer allowed to work. Moira told her the authorities had frozen any bank account belonging to a woman, because women were not allowed to hold property anymore. Everyone became very scared. 

She also remembers her mother coming home from a riot between pro-abortion and anti-abortion activists. She wishes she could tell her mother she did a good job raising her. 

Chapter 29

The Commander and Offred play Scrabble again. Offred asks the Commander about himself and then asks the meaning of the phrase she has seen scratched in the paint of her wardrobe: nolite te bastardes carborundorum. The Commander explains that it is a schoolboy joke meaning “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” Offred understands that the previous handmaid who wrote the phrase must have learned it from the Commander. The Commander says that the previous handmaid hanged herself. 

Night

Chapter 30

Offred remembers the night before she and Luke trie...

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