Offred's mother (called Holly Maddox in the TV series) is a supporting character in The Handmaid's Tale. Before the rise of the Republic of Gilead, she was a staunch second-wave feminist and women's rights activist. She was photographed working on a toxic waste farm most likely as a slave it is still unknown if she is alive.
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. 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
Holly is first mentioned in The Other Side, though she does not appear until Baggage. Her involvement still remains minimal during and after the Gilead takeover. She is a medical professional who performes birth control procedures, such as vasectomies or abortions . It is unknown if she's alive in present time.
Early years Edit
In June's childhood, her mom takes her to a Take Back the Night rally, where women toss papers scribbled with the names of their rapists into a blaze. She supports and encourages the victims..
Before Gilead Edit
June goes to Holly's house to pick up a mixer where she runs in a group of her mom's friends. Holly shows her a scar from a bottle thrown by furious protesters at the abortion clinic where she works. June tells the group what she does for a living. Everyone seems to be impressed but her mom.
June's mom asks her if she likes the job at the publishing place. She says she does. Her mom tells her that she sacrificed for her and that she's settling. She asks about Luke and tells June that she doesn't think she should marry him. Her mom tells her that she thinks its a mistake.
Holly performs a vasectomy on an old friend, Mr Whitford, a few years after such procedures were made illegal . This happens most likely still before the Gilead takeover (see The Other Side#Notes).
After the takeover Edit
In the Red Center, Aunt Lydia shows June, Moira and other handmaids a propagandist slideshow. One of the pictures is of June's mother working in the Colonies. After the slideshow, June reflects that her mother was right, that she always knew women's rights would be threatened . It is unknown if June’s mother is still alive, but she most likely died due to the pollution and diseases while working at the Colonies.