The first episode of The Handmaid's Tale confirmed a major conspiracy theory about Offred's name.

With the majority of Australia now furiously bingeing The Handmaid’s Tale, many important questions about the story’s adaptation from page to screen are being discussed.

One of the most important points of discussion  centers around the revelation of Offred’s real pre-Gilead name.

Fans of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel have long suspected that even though her true moniker was never actually confirmed, Offred’s real name is hinted at during a chapter discussing the Handmaids-in-training indoctrination.

elisabeth moss the handmaid's tale
Elisabeth Moss as Offred in The Handmaid's Tale. Source: Hulu.

Describing their arrivals at the Red Center, Atwood simply wrote that the women “exchanged names from bed to bed: Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June.”

However, a careful examination of the book reveals that all of the other names show up as characters in the book, except "June". Which led us to believe that she is the handmaiden narrating the story.

Listen: Laura Brodnik, Clare Stephens and Katy Hall uncover the secrets behind The Handmaid's Tale's biggest moments on The Binge. 

In the novel, Offred is more of a passive character than she appears in the TV series. In the book she is unable to outwardly fight against being used as a vessel by Commanders and Marthas to bear fruit and ensure survival.

In the show, however, she is brought to life by her fight and her determination not to forget. It is about more than survival, as the show goes on she begins to rebel.


So, why did the show-runners chose to practically confirm such a long-held fan theory and confirm Offred's name in the very first episode?

As Atwood herself pointed out to the New York Times when discussing the adaptation, “The Hulu team made their Offred more active than my Offred. Partly because it’s a television series, and partly because it’s an American television series."

We believe it was also a symbol of hope and rebellion for her as well as the audience.

She needs something of the old world to anchor her memories to; something that helps the story move backwards and forwards in time; something that represents her growing trust in Nick; something that keeps her and Moira united; something that keeps the memory of her husband and daughter alive and fighting.

elisabeth moss the handmaid's tale
Elisabeth Moss as Offred in The Handmaid's Tale. Source: Hulu.

And in a land that strips women of everything, her name is the one thing Offred can keep. It is literally the one thing the regime cannot take away from her.

She is not, as the Sons of Jacob call her, of Fred. She is June.

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