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23 THE HANDMAID’S TALE Quotes That Will Devastate You

Corin Balkovek

Staff Writer

As a child, Corin tried to find ways to look busy when she was actually reading a book. She still does that, but as a librarian, she has more luck pulling it off.

Watching the latest trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale season 2, I realized three things: 1) I will binge-watch all of the new season the day it comes out, even though it gives me a serious stomach ache; 2) Elizabeth Moss should win awards just for her face and and its ability to communicate ALL THE EMOTIONS; 3) Margaret Atwood can write a hell of a beautiful sentence about dark, horrible things. She just has a way of distracting you with her wordsmithery (…that’s a word, right?) and sharp wit, so that you don’t realize that you’ve totally been gutted until it’s too late. But, like, in a good way. Just look at these The Handmaid’s Tale quotes:

  1. “I feel like the word shatter.”
  2. “Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”
  • “Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”
  • “Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”
  • “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.”
  • “Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse, for some.”
  • “When we think of the past it’s the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.”
  • “A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”
  • “Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.”
  • “The sitting room is subdued, symmetrical; it’s one of the shapes money takes when it freezes. Money has trickled through this room for years and years, as if through an underground cavern, crusting and hardening like stalactites into these forms.”
  • “Perhaps he saw the look on my face and mistook it for something else. Really what I wanted was the cigarette.”
  • “Nothing safer than dead.”
  • “But the frown isn’t personal: it’s the red dress she disapproves of, and what it stands for. She thinks I may be catching, like a disease or any form of bad luck.”
  • “I listen to my heart, wave upon wave, salty and red, continuing on and on, marking time.”
  • “Don’t let them suffer too much. If they have to die, let it be fast. You might even provide a Heaven for them. We need You for that. Hell we can make for ourselves.”
  • “Nobody’s heart is perfect.”
  • “The tension between her lack of control and her attempt to suppress it is horrible. It’s like a fart in church.”
  • “I wish I was ignorant, so I didn’t know how ignorant I am.”
  • “When power is scarce, a little of it is tempting.”
  • “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
  • “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.”
  • “Live in the present, make the most of it, it’s all you’ve got.”
  • “Whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard, though silently.”


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