Everything you ever wanted to know about Serena Joy in The Handmaid's Tale, written by masters of this stuff just for you. Serena's obvious unhappiness means that she teeters on the edge of inspiring our sympathy, but she forfeits that sympathy by taking out her frustration on Offred . Offred - The narrator and protagonist of The Handmaid's Tale. He initiates an unorthodox relationship with Offred, secretly playing Scrabble with her in Serena Joy - The Commander's Wife, Serena worked in pre-Gilead days as a gospel.
In the novel it is apparent that Serena Joy was a 'televangelist' or an on-screen preacher trying to get women to return to their traditional family roles.
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This was her part in creating Gilead, as she worked alongside her husband and with other members of the 'Sons of Jacob' to build up the noise around her theories. Serena Joy didn't do this herself, she made speeches instead, but she presented this failure of hers as a sacrifice she was making for the good of all. Rooted in America's fertility issue, Serena Joy tries to encourage women to focus on their 'duty' to bring children into the world.
She attends rallies, makes speeches at universities and even publishes a book on the topic called, 'A Woman's Place. Horrified by the attack, Fred promises to find the "terrorist" who shot her, and we later see Fred kidnap the sniper and hold both him and his wife at gunpoint, eventually shooting them both.
The character of Serena Joy in The Handmaid’s Tale from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
As the 'Sons of Jacob' grow and gain more power as seen in season one of the show we see a very ironic twist in fate for Serena Joy. She is shown to be completely shut out of Gilead's government planning—despite being a key member of the team in its initial stages. After preaching for years that women should be focusing on reproduction and performing their traditional gender roles, she finds herself restricted to that place and separated from all her prior privileges.
Rather symbolically, as she prepares to accept her new supressed role in the society she helped create, she has to watch copies of her book being thrown out—as Gilead strips its nation of all written words. Offred recalls in the original book that Serena's real name is Pam, and Serena Joy is simply her stage name.
'The Handmaid’s Tale': Is Serena Joy Actually A Good Person?
How old is Serena Joy? In the book, Serena is a much older lady—described as having greying hair and arthritis—however, in the series Serena appears to be much younger. During a podcast hosted by InsiderBruce Miller a Handmaid's Tale showrunnerrevealed that they were seeking out a younger Serena to create direct competition between the wife and the Handmaid.
She's older and she's using this young woman to try and get that. I felt like it was a more active dynamic if Serena Joy felt like this person was usurping her role not only as the reproductive object of the house but gradually taking away the wifely duties, the intimate duties, the romantic, sexual duties," Miller explains. There are still older wives seen in The Handmaid's Tale series, and they can be spotted during the birthing ceremonies that the Handmaids must attend in Gilead.
This husband and wife relationship is fraught with complexities.
In flashbacks, we can see that Serena and Fred really do care for one another, with Fred showing his support for Serena and almost playing second fiddle to her success.
Prior to the formation of Gilead it is clear that Serena wore the pants in the relationship, but due to the patriarchal structure of this sexist society, Serena is stripped of her power and forced into the humble role of 'wife' with barely any other freedoms. This switch in power clearly changes their dynamic dramatically and the imbalance seems to suck a fair amount of the passion and intimacy out of their relationship. Serena also appears to be devastated that she cannot provide a child—which she feels is the true and only mission for a woman.
This creates major tension between her and her Handmaid, Offred. The dislike towards Offred only grows stronger when she cottons on that her husband has been seeking out private time with the Handmaid—taking her to Jezebels the illegal, off-grid club that Commanders attend that works as a bar cum brothel to have sex.
Atwood further suggests her nature with: She was in earnest. She also spends her time endlessly knitting scarves with elaborate patterns. Offred fantasises chapter 3 that perhaps: Her frequent employment of knitting needles adds to the picture of Serena as sharp and potentially dangerous.
Serena seems, unsurprisingly, particularly hostile to Offred at the time of the Ceremony, when Offred has to lie in her lap, emulating the phrase from Genesis Offred relates how Serena Joy has to hold Offred's hands, and how: It may or may not be revenge. The bitch, not to tell me She's made of wood, or iron, she can't imagine.
She realises that her husband may now be viewed as a security risk, and become a victim of one of Gilead's purges of its Commanders.
After all he did for you. She said to Jacob, Give me children, or I shall die! Therefore she called his name Dan. So she called his name Naphtali. For women have called me happy. So she called his name Asher. Then Rachel said to Leah, Please give me some of your son's mandrakes.June & Serena // Animal [The Handmaid's Tale]
Would you take away my son's mandrakes also? Rachel said, Then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son's mandrakes. So he lay with her that night.