The Handmaid's Tale Part 5: Nap
Offred does not like the forced inactivity of a Handmaid's life. Remembering harem paintings, she speculates that female boredom may be erotic. Waiting in her bedroom, she wishes for a pig ball, toys given to confined prize pigs. She lies down on the floor and executes a series of pelvic rolls, the recommended exercise for Handmaid. Offred remembers the daily nap the Handmaid's were forced to take at the Red Center. During one nap, a new woman was brought in. It was Moira. They couldn't talk for several days, but when placed together during the daily walk they quickly arranged a meeting time in the bathroom. That time comes during Testifying, which is a daily meeting where individual women share the stories of their past and are pressured into seeing those experiences from the prescribed perspective of the new government. That day Janine testified about how she was gang-raped and had an abortion. One of the Aunts asks the audience whose fault it is. "Her fault, her fault, her fault, we chant in unison." Chapter 13, pg. 72 They all agree that Janine led men on. The first time Janine shared this story she burst into tears as the Handmaid's jeered at her in unison. This time she immediately said she was to blame and that she deserved the pain. After her testimony, Offred asked to be dismissed and met Moira joyfully in the bathroom.
Offred has fallen asleep and dreams.
Offred used to think of her body as an instrument, commanded by her will, one with her. Now she thinks of herself as a cloud congealed around a mysterious uterus that is out of her control. Time passes in months and despair increases. "I have failed once again to fulfill the expectations of others, which have become my own." Chapter 13, pg. 73
Offred's dream skips to her old apartment, empty except for a cupboard of clothes. She wants to put something on, but nothing fits. Luke is behind her with a cat rubbing his legs, mewing for food. She says his name but he does not answer. It occurs to Offred that Luke may not be alive. Then she is running with her daughter through a forest. They are being chased and shot at. She pulls her daughter to the ground and covers her with her body, but they are caught and her daughter is taken away from her. Offred is awakened by a bell. There are tears upon her face. This is the worst of her recurrent dreams.