The Handmaid's Tale Chapters 7-12: Questions and Answers

Margaret Atwood

Chapters 7-12: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why was Offred’s daughter taken from her?

2. Why does Offred wish her story were untrue?

3. Why do Econowives hate Handmaids?

4. What might be the consequences of Gilead’s persecution of Catholic priests?

5. Why is Offred upset at seeing the Commander outside her door?

6. Why does Offred feel the need to invent a face and a personality for her predecessor?

7. What is the significance of Offred remembering the song “Amazing Grace”?

8. When she watches the Commander from her bedroom window, why does Offred remember dropping water bombs at college?

9. Why does the doctor offer to get Offred pregnant?

10. Why are Handmaids tattooed on the ankle?

Answers
1. Most women in Gilead are childless, including Wives, so children are prized. Therefore, a Wife’s acquisition of a child is a boon for her and a sign of prestige. Besides, since Wives are not allowed to work, having a child gives them something to fill their days with. Since Handmaids are stripped of their names and all their individuality, and must be abject servants of the state, losing their children is an absolutely necessary part of this process.

2. Toying with the idea of the truth or untruth of her story, Offred is desperate for any kind of escape. She knows that her future in Gilead is bleak at best, and at worst she may soon lose her life. Telling herself that her present situation is a product of her imagination, or just a bad dream, is the most readily available means of escape. But if Offred loses the ability to distinguish reality from hallucination, she will sink into insanity, and Gilead is not likely to treat the insane with compassion; it probably kills them. Further, Offred’s sanity is vital to any escape attempt.

3. Econowives have very low status in Gilead, as their name implies (“economy grade” is the lowest grade for groceries). They are assigned husbands, whom they have to serve. Although they are not allowed individualism, Handmaids have status as the potential saviors of Gilead through their ability to have babies, and they have nothing but free time on their hands. So...

(The entire section is 916 words.)