Summary: Part XVII: Perfect Teeth

Aunt Lydia writes that her greatest fear is that her efforts will fail, allowing Gilead to last for a thousand years. Despite her fear, she takes pleasure in the few “small mercies” available, such as the Particicution over which Aunt Elizabeth presided the previous day. Two men suffered the ritual participatory execution by a crowd of Handmaids: an Angel caught selling smuggled lemons and Dr. Grove.

Aunt Lydia recounts the performance that Aunt Elizabeth delivered in order to bring Dr. Grove to justice. She booked a dentist appointment, during which she ripped her clothing and screamed that he had tried to rape her. At the trial, Dr. Grove vigorously protested his innocence, but his receptionist, who suspected his boss of other wrongdoing, testified against him. Aunt Lydia watched with Commander Judd as the Handmaids ripped Dr. Grove apart. Commander Judd asked if Dr. Grove was really guilty. Aunt Lydia replied that he was not guilty of assaulting an Aunt but of molesting girls and so ruining them for marriage.

Aunt Lydia changed the subject to inform Commander Judd that Baby Nicole had arrived in Gilead. She wanted to wait for the newcomer to convert fully before informing her of her real identity or presenting her publicly in Gilead.

Summary: Part XVIII: Reading Room

Agnes recalls when she and Becka first saw Daisy, whom they knew as Jade, at the Thanks Giving ceremony for the returning Pearl Girls. Agnes notes that Daisy’s introduction to Gilead was harsh since the following day she had to attend the Particicution of Dr. Grove.

On that day, Agnes stood with Becka, who fainted at the sight of her father’s gruesome death. Becka felt responsible. Even though she had told Agnes the story of her father’s abuse in confidence, Aunt Lydia must have found out somehow. Agnes registered that this must be how Aunts gained their power: “by finding things out.”

When Becka and Agnes returned to Ardua Hall after the Particicution, Aunt Lydia brought Daisy to their rooms. Agnes instinctively knew that the relatively placid life they’d led at Ardua Hall was swiftly coming to its end.