Aunts are a class of women in the Republic of Gilead. They are some of the highest-ranking women, responsible for overseeing the training and indoctrination of Handmaids, overseeing births, and presiding over women's executions. They, along with Guardians, are also responsible for monitoring prisoners in the Colonies.
Aunts wear modest, brown clothing and belts with cattle prods attached.
Aunts run the Rachel and Leah Center, where Handmaids are sent to be trained and where they live in between assignments. Aunts are in charge of training the Handmaids and ensuring they don't escape, and doling out punishments to disobedient Handmaids. Due to their positions, they are the only women in Gilead permitted to read and write (in some editions of the novel, they are also not allowed to read) and have near-absolute power over the Handmaids, making them freer than most women under the regime.
Some Aunts came from positions of leadership and power. For example, Aunt Helena ran a Weight Watchers in Iowa, which made her the perfect person to encourage the Handmaids' testimonials. Aunts are usually fanatical supporters of Gilead and are brutal in their indoctrination of the Handmaids. Their training often involves Bible readings and sermons, lectures on Gilead's beliefs and on morality and 'a woman's place', viewings of violent, hardcore pornography and 'therapy' sessions, where women are forced to share their darkest secrets and 'sins' and are publicly shamed for them, as if it was their own fault.
Aunts also attend the births of babies by Handmaids, escorting other Handmaids to births to take part in the celebrations. In addition, Aunts preside over Particicutions, and other public salvagings, and announce the condemned's crimes and reminding everyone e.g. handmaids of their society's pure and godly values.
Aunts also act as overseers and aggressive slave drivers in the toxic Colonies.
Known Aunts Edit
- Aunt Lydia, full name Lydia Clements
- Aunt Elizabeth
- Aunt Kimberly (TV Series, Red Center)
- Aunt Dylan (TV Series, Red Center)
- Aunt Sarah (TV Series, Colonies)
- Aunt Pauline (TV Series, Colonies)
- Aunt Rebecca (TV Series, Red Center)
- Aunt Sara
- Aunt Helena
- Aunt Christina (1990 Film)
- unknown Aunt from Needham who defected to Canada (TV Series, Red Center)
- It is revealed in the epilogue that the Aunts deliberately had names associated with household products commonly used by women; for example, Aunt Sara, due to the association with Sara Lee, so as to make the Aunts seem more familiar to the Handmaids.