The Handmaid's Tale (1985)
  NY: Fawcett Crett, 1985
  Plot Summary

Flashbacks are marked in blue.  Biblical allusions marked in orange.

I. Night
Chapter 1  -- training in a place which used to be a gym.

II. Shopping

Chapter 2 -- Offred in her own room, preparing to go shopping, seeing two Marthas (Rita and Cora; Martha, devoted herself to housework while her sister Mary sat and listened to Jesus.)
Chapter 3 -- Offred goes out into the garden, meets the commander's Wife (Serena Joy)
Chapter 4 -- Offred goes out of the gate into the driveway, meets the Guardian Nick, joins Offglen and then goes past the gate guarded by two Guardian of the Faith
Chapter 5 -- Out of the Commanders compound and "doubled," Offred goes on the sidewalk and goes past or to several stores: Lilies of the Field, Milk and Honey, and All Flesh.  They also meet some Japanese tourists.
Chapter 6 --  the Wall.   "Luke wasn't a doctor. Isn't"?
III. Night -- "The night is my time out.  Where should I go?"  p. 49
Chapter 7 -- memories of the past: Moira, her mother, being arrested.

IV. Waiting Room -- "I wait.  I compose myself.  My self is a thing I must now compose, as one composes a speech.  What I must present is a made thing, not something born." p. 86

Chapter 8 -- Narrative resumes.  Three new bodies on the Wall.  They go back to the commander's compound, parting with Ofglen's words  "Mayday" as possibly a secret code.  Aunt Lydia's lecture on how the handmaids should treat the Wives (62-63).   Offred gives  Marthas what she bought.  The commander's brief approach and departure.
Chapter 9 -- "My room."   Offred is in her room, waiting and remembering Luke and their past relationship.  Sees the sign "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum" and think of the woman who leaves this message.  
Chapter10 -- Memories.  Moira and Aunt Lydia.
Chapter 11 -- (yesterday) at the doctor's office
Chapter 12 -- bathroom;  Memories of Luke and their daughter; supper.
V. Nap
Chapter 13 -- waiting; Memories: Moira and Offred in the training in the gym; reams of escape scene (with Luke and the daughter).    The bells wakes her up: "Of all the dreams this is the worst."

VI. Household

Chapter 14 -- The household meet in the sitting room, waiting for the commander and watching news.  Memories: escape scene.
Chapter 15 -- The commander comes, reads the bible and is watched by the others.  Moira.  "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum"
Chapter 16 -- The ceremony.
Chapter 17 --  Offred back in her room, "buttering" herself, repeating her name and wating to steal something.  Nick  comesto fetch Offred. 

VII. Night

 Chapter 18 -- Memories: Luke and their daughter.  Hope.

VIII. Birth Day

Chapter 19 -- Dream.  Birthing ritual. 
Chapter 20 -- Birthing ritual.  Memories: Red Center and Offred's young mother
Chapter 21 -- Birthing ritual.  Unwoman" v.s. a "women's culture"
Chapter 22 -- Back to her room.  Moira.  
Chapter 23 --  "All of this is reconstruction."  Offred goes to the study.  Plays scrabble with the Commander.   

IX. Night

Chapter 24 --  Back to her room.  "What I need is perspective."   Memories: documentary about the death camp commander's mistress
X. Soul Scrolls
Chapter 25 --  visiting the commander at night.  provided with magazines and lotion.
Chapter 26 --  The Ceremony--changed.
Chapter 27 --  Walking with Ofglend on the summer street.  Memories:  the ice cream store; her daughter.  The Soul Scroll machines.   Ofglen: "You can join us."  A black van with two Eyes.
Chapter 28 --  Memories:  Luke and Moira; her mother-- against porn and for abortion;  losing her job; Luke.  
Chapter 29 --  In the Commander's office.  The meaning of  "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum": "Don't let the bastard grind you down."  The previous Handmaid who killed herself.  

XI. Night

Chapter 30 -- satire of a traditional Jewish prayer for men which thanks God for not having made them women

XII. Jezebel's 
(Biblical allusion:   One king, Ahab of "Israel" (the Northern Kingdom), had a wife, Jezebel , who worshipped the "gods" Baal (1 Kings 16:29-33) or Baalzebub and Asherah. Jezebel tried to kill the Lord's prophets and encouraged Ahab to do evil. 

Elijah, a prophet, . . .told King Ahab that the dogs would devour Queen Jezebel's body. (1 Kings 21:23). source)

Chapter 31 --   Walking with Ofglen to the shops and then the Wall.   Serena Joy's offer of the picture to Offred.  "Maybe he can't. . .  .Maybe you should try it another way."
Chapter 32 -- In the Commander's office.  "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs"
Chapter 33 -- Prayerganza.  Janine's miscarriage.   Memories:   Janine and Moira;
Chapter 34 --   Prayerganza.  Ofglen: "find out (about the Commander) and tell us."
Chapter 35 --  Offred's comments on love; the daughter's photo.
Chapter 36 --  Jezebel
Chapter 37 --  Jezebel
Chapter 39 --  Moira working at Jezebel
XIII. Night
Chapter 40 -- Nick 

XIV. Salvaging

Chapter 41 --Offred goes back to Nick, time after time.
Chapter 42 --  Salvaging.  
Chapter 43 --  Salvaging.  
Chapter 44 --  Ofglen disappears.   Offred faces the new treacherous Ofglen.  "She hanged herself."  
Chapter 45 --  "She has died that I may live."  Serena finds out about Offred and the Commander.  

XV. Night

Chapter 46 --the black van comes...

Historical Notes on The Handmaid's Tale

Professor Pieixoto about the discovery of "The Handmaid's Tale."