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We learned to lip-read, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other's mouths.

In this way we exchanged names from bed to bed: Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June. Trapped as they are in the new society of Gilead, Offred and her peers are banned from speaking or even using their real names. Despite this, they find ways to undermine these rules and convey their names, suggesting that their names are the only parts of their identities that they possess, so they cling on to them.

When I'm naked I lie down on the examining table, on the sheet of chilly crackling disposable paper. I pull the second sheet, the cloth one, up over my body. At neck level there's another sheet, suspended from the ceiling. It intersects me so the doctor will never see my face. He deals with a torso only. Here Offred s body and mind are divided by a sheet that separates her physical body, the site of potential pregnancy, and her head, where her actual self resides. While she is treated as a body that's separate from her self much of the time, here the author literalises that separation.

I wait. I compose myself. My self is a thing I must now compose, as one composes a speech. What I must present is a made thing, not something born. Offred almost seems like she's been split into two parts: within this new Handmaid, "Offred," the narrator works to present a version of herself that is "a thing" she "compose[s]." She can't behave naturally or impulsively; she has to constantly play a role.

My name isn't Offred; I have another name, which nobody uses now because it's forbidden. I tell myself it doesn't matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter. Here she tries to distance herself from the new name society has given her. She unsuccessfully attempts to convince herself that her name is separate from her identity.

I have been obliterated for her. I am only a shadow now, far back behind the glib shiny surface of this photograph. A shadow of a shadow, as dead mothers become. You can see it in her eyes: I am not there. As a mother, Offred was robbed of her identity when her child was taken away, but she still feels like a mother. This is a theft of her maternal identity, when she realizes her daughter no longer remembers her. This makes her feel as if she no longer exists.

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