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The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers
What is the purpose of the Japanese tourists Offred and Ofglen meet while shopping?

The scene in which Offred and Ofglen cross paths with a group of Japanese tourists while shopping demonstrates several key points. First, Offred is so assimilated to Gilead culture that she initially reacts to the women’s clothing and makeup with a sense of repulsion at the sexuality on display. Second, the reader is able see the handmaids and their world through outsiders’ eyes. The tourists view the handmaids as part of the surreal spectacle that is Gilead, not as independent beings. Finally, this scene informs the reader that despite its changing domestic policies, Gilead still maintains ties with modern nations; such duality emphasizes the republic’s hypocrisy.