By Leonard Unger, Jay Parini
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Extra info for American Writers, Supplement XIII
The second section is in first person past, reflective of the shift in the narrator’s consciousness. While she is concerned about danger on the island, she is focused more on the past. When she refuses Joe’s offer of marriage, the memory of her odd wedding to her ex-husband, where the details did not fit the occasion, seems more clear to her than what is happening in the present. ” Her realization of her own lack of affect is key to many critics’ interpretations of the novel as the narrator’s recovering of her self and her emotions.
Paul, an attractive American, helps Rennie navigate St. Antoine, but Rennie finds out that he is actually “the connection” for guns and drugs; she has sex with him and gratefully returns to a body that she felt was already half dead. Meanwhile, tensions are escalating. The three leaders of the island form a coalition, agreeing that Dr. Minnow will be prime minister, but Minnow is shot. Paul arranges to get Rennie out on a plane, but the airport is shut down. She is arrested and taken to a cell with Lora, which is where, the reader realizes, “here” is.
Offred and her assigned shopping partner, Ofglen, uneasily confess their disbelief in the regime. Ofglen notifies Offred that there is a resistance movement called May Day. She tries to convince Offred to find information that could be useful, but Offred is afraid. Since Serena Joy, the Wife of the Commander, desperately wants a child but suspects that her husband is sterile, she asks Offred to have sex with Nick. Because the risk taken is Offred’s, Serena Joy wants to give her something: a picture of Offred’s daughter for her to look at.