Offred's mother is a supporting character in The Handmaid's Tale. She is the mother of Offred and the grandmother of Offred's daughter. Before the rise of the Republic of Gilead, she was a staunch second-wave feminist and women's rights activist.
In the novel Edit
Before Gilead Edit
Offred's mother seemed to have a low opinion of men for what she saw as their oppression and abuse of women, and was a firm, almost militant support of the women's rights movement. She was heavily involved in the movement as a young woman, including participating in Take Back the Night marches and pro-choice rallies. Offred's mother wanted a child, but was uninterested in getting married. She slept with Offred's father solely to get pregnant and allowed him to be as involved as he wanted to be.
Offred's mother tried to instill her own values into her daughter, on one occasion even taking her to anti-pornography rally and persuading her to burn a magazine, but Offred was resistant, viewing her mother as too radical and believing women were already equals. Offred's mother was frustrated by this, saying her daughter took her freedom and rights for granted. She often spoke of wanting a separate state for women, to be 'free' from patriarchy (ironically, this is more or less what she got when Gilead came to power, though not in way she expected or wanted). Despite her views on men, Offred's mother seemed to get on surprisingly well with her son-in-law Luke, with them exchanging banter and gently teasing each other.
After Gilead Edit
When Gilead began its takeover of the United States, Offred tried to contact her mother, to no avail. She and Luke discovered her flat empty and ransacked, with Offred's mother having apparently been arrested by the regime for her views and political activism. Offred feared her mother was dead. However, Moira reveals years later that she saw Offred's mother in footage of the Colonies. Offred expresses relief at first, until Moira points out that her mother would probably be better off dead, due to the harsh and unsanitary conditions in the Colonies. Offred, horrified, realises that Moira is probably right. It is not known what happened to Offred's mother, though it can be assumed she ultimately died of sickness in the Colonies.
In the TV series Edit
Offred's mother is mentioned in The Other Side, though she has not yet appeared in the series and is not as important a character. Mr Whitford, the man who helps Offred, Luke and their daughter to escape to the border, is an old friend of Offred's mother, saying he owes her because she performed a vasectomy on him two years after such procedures were made illegal. This would suggest that Offred's mother is a medical professional, such as a surgeon. It is unknown if she's alive or not, though as a female doctor who performed birth control procedures, she would almost certainly have been targeted by Gilead.