"The lives of these women are segmented by bells, little friendly bells that prod them from one prayerful activity to the next... The bells also signify the structure of a nun's life. Prayer without distraction is though to be purer prayer. The bells are reminders, or breaks between the sentences of their days, like fresh paragraphs."
Eight sets of prayers punctuate the nun's day (approximate times): Matins (2am), Lauds (5am), Prime (6am), Terce (9 am), Sext (noon), Nones (3 pm),Vespers (5pm), Compline (6pm)
This reference to patriarchy’s influence on language reminds us that although Gilead’s level of oppression is unparalleled in North America, it very much existed in other forms in ‘the time before’. The Republic is the logical conclusion of unchecked patriarchy, so it is perhaps fitting for such a world that ‘sororize’ does not exist as a word, as women are now pitted against each other and any form of true friendship between them is forbidden.
Underground economies tend to flourish in countries where corruption, strict regulation and monopolies have a stranglehold on economic goods or services. Likewise, war can swell the black market as restriction of resources needed for the war effort leads to rationing. For goods that take on extra lustre in times of hardship – tobacco, alcohol, drugs, desirable clothes and make-up – people are often willing to pay through the nose, hence the exorbitant prices that everyday items can fetch on the black market.