The Handmaid's Tale Questions and Answers
by Margaret Atwood

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What does the Commander want from Offred? When Offred is asked to meet the Commander and play Scrabble, what is the purpose of it?

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The Commander's motives are not entirely clear when he requires Offred to start meeting him in his office for Scrabble games. The entire novel is from Offred's perspective, so we have no real insight into the inner workings of the Commander's mind. When Offred is first called to the office, she assumes she is going to be required to perform some sex act. This, of course, is illegal in Gilead, as the only sexual activity allowed for handmaids is the "ceremony" that is performed once a month in an attempt to impregnate the handmaid. Offred is shocked to find out that the Commander wants to play Scrabble. This is also not technically allowed—for the Commander and handmaid to spend time behind closed doors, for the handmaid to read or enjoy leisure activities of any kind—but seems more innocent than what Offred first imagines he wants.

As far as his motives, it is possible that the Commander is seeking companionship. The strict rules of the society do not allow for he and his wife, or he...

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