My arms are raised; she holds my hands, each of mine in each of hers. this is supposed to signify that we are one flesh, one being. What it really means is that she is in control, of the process and thus of the product. If any.

Here, Offred describes her and Serena Joy’s positions during the procreation ceremony. Many aspects of a Handmaid’s imprisonment in Gilead appear as rituals for her own good or marks of her special status as a potential childbearing woman. The Ceremony is one of these rituals: as the Wife holds her surrogate’s hands, the connection designed to symbolize one being functions to restrain the Handmaid. The true purpose for Serena Joy’s presence is to exert control, even pin Offred down if necessary.

Now and again we vary the route; there’s nothing against it, as long as we stay within the barriers. A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.

Offred describes how she and Ofglen sometimes take different ways to and from their shopping trips. Although Offred and the other Handmaids can leave their houses without direct supervision, they can only go as far as the walls of the city. Offred understands that though it seems like a kind of freedom to be able to go different places, within their own “maze” they are just as much prisoners as anyone in a jail cell.