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The Handmaid's Tale | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale | Chapter 41 : Salvaging | Summary



This chapter and the next four fall in the section headed "Salvaging." A Salvaging is a ceremony in which women are executed and an audience participates.

Offred apologizes to her audience for this story and her behavior, but she continues to have a sexual relationship with Nick without Serena Joy's help or knowledge. This risk seems reckless, yet she takes it. She feels enormous gratitude toward Nick and shares her real name with him, along with other details about herself, although Nick does not reciprocate with such details of his own. She feels she is betraying Luke, but this feeling does not stop her. Also, she realizes that her relationship with Nick has made her content, or at least complacent. She no longer wants to escape, and she does not care about Ofglen's talk of resistance. She wonders whether the household staff is aware of her meetings with Nick.


Offred's apologetic tone reflects the regret she feels over having a relationship with Nick when there is still a possibility for reunion with Luke. In fact, Luke may take on the identity of the "you" she addresses as her audience. She implies that by confessing her sins to Luke, she honors him by believing in him. Clinging defiantly to the truth as one of her only remaining possessions helps Offred control the options that may be the outcome of her story.

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