The Handmaid's Tale | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale | Chapter 45 : Salvaging | Summary

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Summary

Offred is relieved that Ofglen's suicide means Ofglen was not forced to give up her secrets, although she considers that perhaps this report of suicide is a lie. When she gets back to the Commander's house, Serena Joy confronts Offred by saying, "I trusted you ... I tried to help you." Offred does not know which of her many secrets Serena Joy has discovered. She plays dumb, but Serena Joy produces her evidence: the sequined costume and lipstick on the blue cloak Offred wore to Jezebel's.

Analysis

Like Offred, readers do not know which characters are trustworthy and which are untrustworthy. This tension is present throughout the narrative as Offred must decide who will keep her secrets and who will not, but the stakes are higher now that Ofglen is dead. Should Offred trust Nick, her lover? He is washing the car, seemingly oblivious. Yet Nick has been trusted with many potentially damaging secrets.

Serena's confrontation reminds us that Serena, too, is severely oppressed in this society. She has had a kind of trusting relationship with Offred that is gone now as well.

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