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The Handmaid's Tale | Chapter 37 : Jezebel's | Summary

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Summary

Inside the building, the rooms all have numbers on them, and Offred realizes it is an old hotel. She recognizes it as a hotel she once visited with Luke during her first experience as a mistress. There are many women present, some former prostitutes and some former professionals, all dressed in gaudy or revealing outfits and obviously there to provide sex for the men. Other men are there, too, and not just men from Gilead. The Commander tells her the place is called "the club" and that it serves the needs of men. The Commander parades Offred around, never loosening his grip on her, as if she is his special trophy or prize.

Among the women, Offred spots Moira, dressed in a sexy bunny costume. They make eye contact, and Moira signals for a secret meeting in the bathroom. The Commander leaves briefly and returns with drinks; Offred excuses herself to go to the washroom.

Analysis

The Commander's arguments about the necessity of Gilead's strict gender divisions and restrictions have begun to take on an absurd quality. It is becoming clear that his belief in them is based on misguided, if not delusional, notions. This time, he tries to convince Offred that nature is responsible for the fact that women are kept illegally in brothels such as this one, because nature causes men to crave variety. Recall that in Chapter 34 he defended Gilead's way of life as returning women to their "biological destinies" and "nature's norm." Offred points out the irony of his position and feels fed up with him, but of course she is not free to express her opinion.

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