What is the significance of the words Offred spells in her scrabble games with the commander and the images that they relate to the novel?

1 Answer | Add Yours

lentzk's profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Playing Scrabble is like forbidden fruit to Offred, delicious.  The wooden tiles are "like candies, made up of peppermint, cool like that" molding them into exotic words:  Larynx, valance, zygote, quince" (Atwood 180). Forbidden to read or write, Offred finds the illicit Scrabble games an opportunity to relive her past. 

Larynx--This word could have significance in terms of Offred's forced silent role in Gilead.  Since the larynx is thevoice box, Offred finds herself longing to find her own voice under an oppressive regime.

Zygote--Another word choice laden with signifance to the plot, a zygote is another name for a fertilized female egg.  Offred is clearly worried about the demands put upon her for successful reproduction.

Valance-- A valance is a partial window covering.  Offred wishes for privacy in a totalitarian society which offers none. 



Miner, Madonne.  “Trust Me:  Reading the Romance Plot Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.”  Twentieth Century Literature  Summer 1991; 148-168.


We’ve answered 319,184 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question