The Handmaid's Tale Part 1: Night
Our narrator, who we later find is called Offred, records her recollections of a gymnasium in a not-so-distant past, which served as a sort of barracks for her and many other women. For Offred the gymnasium evoked images, sounds, and smells of past school games and dances. She imagined "girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in mini skirts, then pants, then one earring, spiky green-streaked hair." Chapter 1, pg. 3
There was a particular yearning in the air that the women could still sense, though the room had been filled with army cots and was patrolled by Aunts with electric cattle prods. It was an insatiable "yearning for something that was always about to happen, and was never the same as the hands that were on us there and then." Chapter 1, pg.3
Guards from the elite group called the Angels encircled the fence of the building. The women feared them, but also fantasized about exchanging sexual favors with them for some freedom. Offred and the other women learned to whisper and read lips. In this way, they exchanged names.