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Word Count: 1,184
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead a totalitarian and theocratic state that has replaced the United States of America Because of dangerously low reproduction rates Handmaids are assigned to bear children for elite couples that have trouble conceiving Offred serves the Commander and his wife Serena Joy a former gospel singer and advocate for traditional values Offred is not the narrators real nameHandmaid names consist of the word of followed by the name of the Handmaids Commander Every month when Offred is at the right point in her menstrual cycle she must have impersonal wordless sex with the Commander while Serena sits behind her holding her hands Offreds freedom like the freedom of all women is completely restricted She can leave the house only on shopping trips the door to her room cannot be completely shut and the Eyes Gileads secret police force watch her every public move As Offred tells the story of her daily life she frequently slips into flashbacks from which the reader can reconstruct the events leading up to the beginning of the novel In the old world before Gilead Offred had an affair with Luke a married man He divorced his wife and married Offred and they had a child together Offreds mother was a single mother and feminist activist Offreds best friend Moira was fiercely independent The architects of Gilead began their rise to power in an age of readily available pornography prostitution and violence against women when pollution and chemical spills led to declining fertility rates Using the military they assassinated the president and members of Congress and launched a coup claiming that they were taking power temporarily They cracked down on womens rights forbidding women to hold property or jobs Offred and Luke took their daughter and attempted to flee across the border into Canada but they were caught and separated from one another and Offred has seen neither her husband nor her
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