FIGURES OF THE PAST: Luke, mother and daughter.
Offred, a victim of the patriarchal society of Gilead, reveals her story through narrative in the present tense. Using the past tense, she describes her memories of her mother, daughter and her husband, Luke. Through these memories she is able to keep herself mentally healthy with the hope that she may be reunited with her family, the most loved and important people in her life. The memories of her family also provide an escapism to her happier, freer life.
The characters of the mother, daughter and Luke show a contrast to the present life she is living. The memories reveal a happier life before the Gileadian regime was established.
We are first introduced to Offred's daughter as Offred remembers, in the time before Gilead, how Luke and herself cared for their child's safely. They kept plastic bags out of the daughter's reach or not in the house at all. From this first introduction we learn that Offred deeply cared for and loved her child. Offred felt a "chill of fear" once for keeping the plastic bags carelessly in her reach.
Throughout the novel, the memory of her daughter comes back to her at different ages. This helps Offred in her hope that she is still alive. She believes that if she was dead the memories of her would be at the same age, "the ghost of a dead girl a little girl who died when she was five.".
Offred never reveals her daughter's name just as she does not reveal her mothers of even her own. This may be to protect the identity of the child incase the tapes (on to which she is telling the story) are confiscated by the regime. The fact that the child remains nameless to the reader makes her appear like a shadowy character - she is just part of Offred's memory. It also symbolise that the child has been stripped of her own true identify. Later on in the book we learn that she has become a daughter of a commander's wife and become "tall and changed".