Page 205. " The Fall was a fall from innocence to knowledge. "
Ladder of Divine Ascent
Public DomainLadder of Divine Ascent - Credit: Florian Prischl

This refers to The Fall from Heaven.

Innocence is here equated with ignorance, traits the Republic of Gilead is bent on developing in its women. This can also be seen as a comment on the anti-intellectual nature of blind religious faith.

Page 209. " This used to be Independence Day, before they abolished it. September First will be Labour Day, they still have that. Though it didn’t used to have anything to do with mothers. "

American Independence Day is on 4 July, commemorating the country’s declaration of independence from Britain in 1776. In the novel, the USA no longer exists and the celebration is therefore redundant.

Labor Day is a federal American holiday on the first Monday in September. It was first organised by Peter J. McGuire, an American labour leader, after he had witnessed Canadian labour disputes which led to a law protecting unionism in Canada. The first American Labour Day parade took place in New York City in 1882, as a celebration of the workers and their families. Today, the celebration still includes parades and political speeches.

Page 210. " It doesn’t mean Jewish, those would be yellow stars. "


Yellow star as worn by a Jew in occupied France
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeYellow star as worn by a Jew in occupied France - Credit: Olve Utne

The regime has followed in the footsteps of the Third Reich by requiring all Jews to wear a yellow star.


Page 211. " Torahs, talliths, Mogen Davids. "
Torah scroll
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeTorah scroll - Credit: Bejinhan

The Torah is the name given to the five books of Moses, the texts on which Judaism was founded. Talliths are prayer shawls worn by Jewish men and boys. Mogen David is an alternate name for the Star of David, the famous symbol of Judaism.