Stephanie Harding 13rma
Why Is Chapter 13 Significant in The Novel?
Chapter 13 is an important chapter to the novel as it is here we see the major preparation for the 'ceremony' and how Offred feels about it all. Once again Offred analyses every situation and every detail of what is happening to her. She does this as she has so much free time being in the Republic of Gilead. Offred is therefore so desperate for something to do and so spends her time thinking things through, taking in every detail of her surroundings and remembering her past vividly, these memories mainly being of her best friend "Moira" and her family. These memories add a spark of hope to her life, hoping that one day she will get out and find her daughter that we assume she has and have a family and freedom. This hope being the one thing that keeps her going in Gilead. This aspect is explained by Offred as she talks about a psychology book she once read about "..the chapter on caged rats that would give themselves electric shock for something to do". Her showing by this that she wishes for something to do with her free time. Also when she talks about another study in the book about three groups of pigeons, one who gave up when there grain was cut, another who gave up pecking a little while after and the third group who pecked themselves to death rather than give up. This being because this group received their grain randomly and so always lived in hope of the grain coming out again. This also referring to Offreds life, in that she will never give up and give in to the laws and rules here but always live in hope that she will get out and have freedom, no matter what the consequences.
Here in Gilead the handmaids don't have much freedom at all, they are not permitted to talk to one another so making friendships or relationships of any sort near impossible. However they have developed discrete methods of communication, we see Offred and her friend meet in the toilets and talking for a few minutes through a hole between the cubicles. Also, when out for walks, the girls manage to talk quietly without turning their heads so as the guards don't see them communicating. Friendships by communication are so against the rules in Gilead because it is feared that, because of the conditions the handmaids live in, a few girls may become friends with the same ideas, which could lead to a rebellion. This resulting in the handmaids being watched constantly and being treated like possessions of Gilead. An
Stephanie Harding 13rma
Important issue that is emphasised in this chapter as Offred describes the ceremony preparations to us. She talks about how she is washed scrubbed up especially for the ceremony and says how she feels like a "prize pig". Referring to the women as being like animals for show, or items only for the use of reproduction. Later named a "two legged womb", therefore women have no rights in Gilead. They also have a low status compared to men. This is shown when a girl at confessions tells her story of how she was gang raped and had to have an abortion. Although this may have been a lie to please those of higher rank, it was still a terrible and upsetting thing to talk about true or not. But instead of being comforted and supported she was teased and taunted as it was made out that because she is a female and was raped that she led the men on and asked them to rape her. The second week she simply confessed strait away to save the torment, only then was she commended. Women as we see are rated very low in Gilead, specifically the handmaids. This point, which this chapter emphasises as well as how confined the girls are. This chapter showing Offreds opinions and the reality of life in Gilead making this chapter very significant in the novel.