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Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum is the 4th episode of Season 1 on the Hulu series The Handmaid's Tale.

Plot Edit

Offred has been banished to her room by Serena Joy for "lying" about being pregnant. She goes into the closet where she finds the Latin phrase "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum" scratched into the wall.[1]

Rita, a Martha in Commander Fred's household, finds Offred lying in the closet, and thinks she fainted. Believing she is sick, Serena has Offred sent to the hospital for a check-up. While examining Offred, the doctor remarks that the Commander is sterile, because "most of those guys are". The doctor offers to impregnate Offred, but she declines as the act seems too dangerous.

In flashbacks, Aunt Lydia teaches the Handmaids (including June and Moira) about something called The Ceremony – a highly ritualised sexual act involving Commanders, their Wives, and Handmaids. In the flashback, June and Moira escape from the Red Center, hoping to escape to Boston, which they hear have a safehouse for Handmaids. June is stopped by a guard, and only Moira is able to board a train, dressed as an Aunt.

In the present, Commander Waterford has an unsuccessful Ceremony with Offred. Later that night, the Commander and Offred have another game of Scrabble where she asks him about the Latin phrase "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum"; he tells her it means "Don't let the bastards grind you down". She also inquires about the previous Offred, in which he tells her that she committed suicide because life was unbearable. He makes it known that he doesn't want that to happen again and releases Offred from her solitary confinement.

References Edit

  1. This phrase also appeared in the novel. Atwood 1998, pp. 235

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