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The Handmaid's Tale | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale | Chapter 35 : Jezebel's | Summary



Offred begins again to tell the story of her family's escape. They have fake passports and a picnic cover story. At the border, the guard seems to have suspicions and moves to make a phone call. Fearing capture, Luke rushes to drive away; later, they abandon the car in the woods and make a run for it.

Offred does not want to continue telling the story. Instead, she considers the Commander's question about love and the nature of romance in the pre-Gilead society. She is amazed at the number of possibilities that had been available to her in that life.

Serena Joy arrives and shows Offred the photograph of her daughter as promised. Offred realizes that she has been erased from her daughter's life and regrets seeing the photograph.

As Offred eats her dinner that night, she notes that she is never given a knife.


Offred contemplates the nature of time. Luke, whom Offred loses, is "stopped dead in time." He is unchanged from the point at which he drops out of her story because she has no further information about him. In contrast, her own life, if not the evolution of her identity, continues: "Time ... has washed over me, washed me away." The photograph of Offred's daughter provides evidence that allows the daughter to grow beyond Offred's last memory of her. Time causes Offred's daughter to grow without her and to grow beyond any further connection to Offred's story.

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