The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Moira is Offred's best friend. She is a part of Offred's life in all
three time phases of the novel. In the "time before" they were
easy-going college students together, and they meet again at the Red
Center. Moira is a strong-willed woman who is not intimidated by the
regime. She possesses an irreverent sense of humor and is like a
breath of fresh air in the stilted, enclosed, fearful world of the
Center. The first thing she says to Offred when they meet again is
simply, "This is a loony bin " (ch. 13). This reveals Moira's
down-to-earth nature, her willingness to describe things the way they
are. Moira has a strength that makes Offred feel safer just because of
her presence. There is something indomitable about her. When Moira
first tells Offred about her plan to escape, Offred cannot bear the
thought of being without her. But Moira is determined. Unlike Offred,
she will not put up with how she is treated. She has the courage to
resist. Even when she is whipped on the soles of her feet after her
failed attempt to escape, she is not broken. She simply comes up with
a better plan and escapes again. It seems as if nothing can break her
or stop her from being herself.

After her escape, Moira becomes a kind of mythic figure for the others
at the Red Center, a symbol of defiance and resistance. Because of
Moira, Offred says, "the Aunts were less fearsome and more absurd.
Their power had a flaw in it" (ch.

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22).

However, it is debatable whether Moira continues in this heroic role
throughout the novel. When Offred sees her again at Jezebel's, Moira
is still in one sense her old irrepressible self. But in another sense
she has changed. She has made her accommodation with the regime, and
has no plans to escape from her role as a sex servant. The position
allows her to have as much sex with other women as she wants, and she
also has access to drugs and alcohol. Offred finds herself wanting
Moira once again to act heroically, but it seems that even Moira has
her limits. The regime offered her something she found tolerable-even
though it is sordid-and she took the opportunity. So eventually the
regime found a way of silencing even Moira.

Moira is Offred's closest friend. In the time before, they were
college students together. Then at the Red Center, the spirited,
rebellious, independent Moira refused to accept her situation. Twice
she tried twice to escape. The first time she faked illness and was
taken to a hospital, but her ploy was discovered. She was punished by
having her feet severely beaten, and then she was returned to the
Center. But this did not break her spirit, and her next attempt to
escape was successful. She tied up Aunt Elizabeth, took her uniform
and used her pass to make her way through checkpoints. After her
escape, Moira became an inspiration to Offred and the other women at
the Red Center. Moira escaped detection for about nine months, and
planned to slip over the border to Canada. But eventually she was
caught. The authorities told her she could either be sent to the
colonies or work as a kind of sex servant at Jezebel's. She chose the
latter option, which is the last place Offred sees her.


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