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The Handmaid's Tale | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale | Chapter 46 : Night | Summary



Offred sits in her room and waits for the inevitable. She considers the options: burn down the house, kill herself, beg for mercy, attack Serena Joy unaware, go to Nick, or try to run away. She does nothing. Presently a black van arrives, and two Eyes come for her, accusing her of spying. However, Nick arrives at her room with them and says it is safe to go with the men—they are part of Mayday. She goes with them. The Commander asks for a warrant that is not produced, while Serena Joy questions what is happening. Rita and Cora are confused and upset as she is taken away. All seem to blame Offred for putting the family in jeopardy.


Offred regrets her perpetual inaction during this final event. She wishes she had taken matters into her own hands and killed herself while she had the chance. However, it seems as if her inaction—her willingness to do anything, even give in, if it permits her survival—pays off, as Nick assures her that the van is Mayday, not the Eyes.

Offred ends her narrative with her characteristic offering of story options: either this is the darkness, or it is the light. She does not know for certain, and neither do readers.

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