would like to believe this is a story I’m telling. I need to believe
it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are
only stories have a better chance. If it’s a story I’m telling,
then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending,
to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where
I left off.
This quotation, from the end of Chapter 7, reflects
the connection between Offred’s story, her readers, her lost family,
and her inner state. These words suggest that Offred is not recounting
events from afar, looking back on an earlier period in her life.
Rather, she is describing the horror of Gilead as she experiences
it from day to day. For Offred, the act of telling her story becomes
a rebellion against her society. Gilead seeks to silence women,
but Offred speaks out, even if it is only to an imaginary reader,
to Luke, or to God. Gilead denies women control over their own lives,
but Offred’s creation of a story gives her, as she puts it, “control
over the ending.” Most important, Offred’s creation of a narrative
gives her hope for the future, a sense that “there will be an ending
. . . and real life will come after it.” She can hope that someone
will hear her story, or that she will tell it to Luke someday. Offred
has found the only avenue of rebellion available in her totalitarian
society: she denies Gilead control over her inner life.