Spark Notes – The Handmaid’s Tale

If you need a gentle start to revising the novel try Spark Notes. They have notes on plot, characters and theme. Here’s what they have to say about Moira:

Throughout the novel, Moira’s relationship with Offred epitomizes female friendship. Gilead claims to promote solidarity between women, but in fact it only produces suspicion, hostility, and petty tyranny. The kind of relationship that Moira and Offred maintain from college onward does not exist in Gilead.

In Offred’s flashbacks, Moira also embodies female resistance to Gilead. She is a lesbian, which means that she rejects male-female sexual interactions, the only kind that Gilead values. More than that, she is the only character who stands up to authority directly by make two escape attempts, one successful, from the Red Center. The manner in which she escapes—taking off her clothes and putting on the uniform of an Aunt—symbolizes her rejection of Gilead’s attempt to define her identity. From then on, until Offred meets up with her again, Moira represents an alternative to the meek subservience and acceptance of one’s fate that most of the Handmaids adopt. When Offred runs into Moira, Moira has been recaptured and is working as a prostitute at Jezebel’s, servicing the Commanders. Her fighting spirit seems broken, and she has become resigned to her fate. After embodying resistance for most of the novel, Moira comes to exemplify the way a totalitarian state can crush even the most independent spirit.

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