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The Handmaid's Tale | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale | Chapter 34 : Jezebel's | Summary



The main event of the Prayvaganza is the giving away of daughters in arranged marriages to Angels (soldiers who fought in the war). The ceremony includes a speech by a Commander about sacrifice and victory as well as a tirade about how terrible society used to be for women. This ritual reminds Offred of a conversation she had with the Commander. He asked her to give an opinion on the way he and the other men constructed the new society. She told him they left out love. The Commander then argued that the new society is natural and better built for survival.

On the way out of the ceremony, Ofglen reveals that she and the other Handmaids know about Offred's secret meetings with the Commander. Ofglen urges her to gather information from the Commander for the resistance.


Offred considers how many years it will be before the young girls will not have any memory of a different way of life. She decides it will be about three to five years, a frighteningly short time, before all women's memories of the past are lost.

The Commander is puzzled by Offred's opinion that he and the other city planners left out love in the construction of Gilead's society. In the same way, Aunt Lydia clearly has a negative view of love. Both characterize the pre-Gilead society by focusing on the negatives, not the beauty. This tendency makes these officials pitiable yet clearly dangerous in their lack of empathy.

Ofglen invites Offred to join yet another conspiracy, one in which she acts as a double agent by gathering information from the Commander while carrying on an affair with him. Offred's safety hangs precariously in the balance between those who know of her illegal actions and those who do not. In this way, knowledge becomes a medium of exchange for gain or loss.

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