The Handmaid's Tale | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale | Chapter 39 : Jezebel's | Summary



The Commander takes Offred to one of the hotel rooms. She thinks about her conversation with Moira, recalling that Moira told her she saw Offred's mother in a film about the Colonies, where outcasts live among toxic waste. This revelation sparks the memory of when she and Luke discovered her mother's mysterious disappearance during the coup. The Commander initiates sex, saying he wants it to be enjoyable for Offred. She finds the idea unappealing but thinks she should try to please him.


The hotel that has become Jezebel's is all too familiar to Offred, right down to the wrappers on the individual soaps. Because the situation is parallel—she was Luke's mistress, and now she is the Commander's mistress—she feels Luke's absence more keenly. She feels the absence of love.

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