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The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood


Study Questions & Essay Topics

A Glossary of Terms Used in The Handmaid’s Tale

1. What do Offred and the other Handmaids call the detention center where they were kept?

2. With whom does Offred do her shopping?

3. What is the name of the society in which Offred lives?

4. Why do all the shops in Gilead have pictures instead of written signs?

5. What did Serena Joy do before the new society was formed?

6. What function do Handmaids serve?

7. Why is the need for Handmaids so great in Gilead?

8. What is the title of the man with whom Offred must have sex?

9. Who is Luke?

10. Where does The Handmaid’s Tale take place?

11. What happened to Offred’s daughter?

12. What does the Commander ask Offred to do when he calls her into his study?

13. What is the Wall?

14. What does Ofglen tell Offred when they are looking at the prayer machines?

15. Who is Moira?

16. What is the Ceremony?

17. What is a Martha?

18. How did the founders of the Republic of Gilead first clamp down on women’s rights?

19. What is the name of the club where the Commander takes Offred?

20. Who does Offred see at the club?

21. How does Serena plan to get Offred pregnant?

22. What is a Salvaging?

23. What is the password for Ofglen’s dissident group?

24. What happens to Ofglen?

25. At the end of the novel, who comes to take Offred away?

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by sidlaecarg, October 15, 2013

Offred's thoughts about cigarettes in her new life and the memory of smoking them in her old provides another symbol for control of women's bodies and choices in the Gilead regime. She is a former smoker, but her cigarettes are taken away from her along with many other freedoms when she becomes a handmaid. Offred can no longer smoke because this might harm any children she has yet to bear, though she still yearns for another cigarette whenever she sees one. Offred yearns for the freedoms her old life had to offer. Gilead's removal of cigaret... Read more


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