The Handmaid's Tale Quotes

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When I get out of here, if I’m ever able to set this down, in any form, even in the form of one voice to another, it will be a reconstruction then too, at yet another remove. It’s impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out, there are too many parts, sides, crosscurrents, nuances; too many gestures, which could mean this or that, too many shapes which can never be fully described, too many flavors, in the air or on the tongue, half-colors, too many. But

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14

Some day, when times improve, says Aunt Lydia, no one will have to be an Econowife. The

Page number : 44
9

Don't let the bastards grind you down.

2330

Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.

1519

But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.

1245

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don't let the bastards grind you down.

1142

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.We lived in the gaps between the stories.

1079

Better never means better for everyone... It always means worse, for some.

862

Falling in love, we said; I fell for him. We were falling women. We believed in it, this downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said, but we reversed that, and love, like heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done; and you would know too why your friends had been evasive about it, at the time.There is a good deal of comfort, now, in remembering this.

681

When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.

610

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

504

You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.

492

A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.

421

What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, criscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.

382

There is more than one kind of freedom," said Aunt Lydia. "Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it.

381

But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest.Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn't really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn't about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it's about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.

338

The moment of betrayal is the worst, the moment when you know beyond any doubt that you've been betrayed: that some other human being has wished you that much evil

333

But people will do anything rather than admit that their lives have no meaning. No use, that is. No plot.

322

You can think clearly only with your clothes on.

303

We thought we had such problems. How were we to know we were happy?

290

I am not your justification for existence.

282

Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. Wool blanket.

277

I want to be held and told my name. I want to be valued, in ways that I am not; I want to be more than valuable. I repeat my former name; remind myself of what I once could do, how others saw me. I want to steal something.

243

I feel like the word shatter.

212

It's impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because of what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out, there are too many parts, sides, crosscurrents, nuances; too many gestures, which could mean this or that, too many shapes which can never be fully described, too many flavors, in the air or on the tongue, half-colors, too many.

209

Maybe the life I think I'm living is a paranoid delusion...Sanity is a valuable possession; I hoard it the way people once hoarded money. I save it, so I will have enough, when the time comes.

193

All you have to do, I tell myself, is keep your mouth shut and look stupid. It shouldn't be that hard.

186

If it's a story I'm telling, then I have control over the ending...But if it's a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone.You don't tell a story only to yourself. There's always someone else. Even when there is no one.

183

We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?

179

Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.

171

I want everything back, the way it was. But there is no point to it, this wanting.

163

Knowing was a temptation. What you don't know won't tempt you.

158

It isn't running away they're afraid of. We wouldn't get far. It's those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge.

132

You can't help what you feel, but you can help how you behave

132

I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.

124

Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you'd be boiled to death before you knew it.

118

They wore blouses with buttons down the front that suggested the possibilities of the word undone. These women could be undone; or not. They seemed to be able to choose.

115

That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn't even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn't even an enemy you could put your finger on.

109

To want is to have a weakness.

104

I feel like cotton candy: sugar and air. Squeeze me and I’d turn into a small sickly damp wad of weeping pinky-red.

102

Modesty is invisibility...Never forget it. To be seen—to be seen—is to be...penetrated. What you must be girls, is impenetrable.

101

My name isn't Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because it's forbidden. I tell myself it doesn't matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter. I keep the knowledge of this name like something hidden, some treasure I'll come back to dig up, one day. I think of this name as buried. This name has an aura around it, like an amulet, some charm that's survived from an unimaginably distant past. I lie in my single bed at night, with my eyes closed, and the name floats there behind my eyes, not quite within reach, shining in the dark.

98

One and one and one and one doesn't equal four. Each one remains unique, there is no way of joining them together. They cannot be exchanged, one for the other. They cannot replace each other.

91

Faith is only a word, embroidered.

87

You can wet the rim of a glass and run your finger around the rim and it will make a sound. This is what I feel like: this sound of glass. I feel like the word shatter. I want to be with someone.

82

As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes.

82

We lived, as usual by ignoring. Ignoring isn't the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.

79

Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it really isn't about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn't about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it's about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.

78

Sometimes she would cry. I was so lonely, she'd say. You have no idea how lonely I was. And I had friends, I was a lucky one, but I was lonely anyway.I admired my mother in some ways, although things between us were never easy. She expected too much from me, I felt. She expected me to vindicate her life for her, and the choices she'd made. I didn't want to live my life on her terms. I didn't want to be the model offspring, the incarnation of her ideas. We used to fight about that. I am not your justification for existence, I said her to once.I want her back. I want everything back, the way it was. But there is no point to it, this wanting.

78

I avoid looking down at my body, not so much because it’s shameful or immodest but because I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to look at something that determines me so completely.

77