There is a lot of information to unpack in this relatively small section of the book. It’s our first real interaction with the Commander, our first experience with the Ceremony, and there is a lot of flashback/backstory tidbits being dumped into our laps. It’s kind of a whirlwind of a section, in my opinion, but Atwood does a good job presenting information in a way that makes you think and doesn’t reveal everything at once, but gives you enough to not be helplessly lost and confused.
It’s strange to me how stark and cold all of the social interactions in the household are. It’s like none of these people are actually people anymore. We have Offred’s perspective and even she at times seems robotic (which makes sense when you think about the fact that she’s likely constantly dissociating from her experiences just to stay sane), but the way in which the other members of the household interact shows that no one really likes each other. It’s disconcerting to see how they all tamper everything that makes them human. I really am surprised any of them can upkeep this kind of pigeon-holing lifestyle without going completely insane.
Ignoring the horrible imagery of the “sex” scene, the parts that jumped out at me most were her memories. Because of how resigned to everything everyone is I never before entertained the idea that she and Luke had tried to get away with their daughter before all this. It was really heartbreaking to see that effort just to know that it obviously failed.
I’m very interested to see where this odd little ending scene with Nick takes her. We get Offred’s perspective on it as that desperate desire for human connection and I’m wondering if he will be the same and they’ll find themselves in a messy situation or if it’s going to come back to bite her that he found her sneaking around. It’s very powerful that something as little as leaving her room in the middle of the night is not permitted and is punishable. The book itself feels oppressive because it almost feels like just a stack of injustices, infringed rights and different methods of oppression just strung together by words.