We thought we could do better. Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse, for some.
Commander Fred (to Offred) about the conspirators' motives. [1]

Commander Fred (also known as "The Commander") is the head of the household where Offred is enslaved as a Handmaid. He is the husband of Serena Joy. On the outside he seems like a decent, well-meaning man, and almost comes across like a victim of Gilead, making the best of a society he opposes. However, we learn from various clues and from the epilogue that the Commander (along with Serena Joy) was actually involved in designing and establishing Gilead. In the way he treats his wife and the people below him, his cruel and violent side is revealed.



Commander Fred has grey hair, wears a black suit and looks "like a Midwestern bank president. [2]



Commander Fred takes a liking to Offred and, despite the dangers, invites her up to his study in the evenings, where he keeps contraband items. Fred talks with Offred and offers her forbidden items such as hand lotion and fashion magazines. He also confides in her that he is lonely and finds that his wife no longer understands him, essentially beginning an emotional affair with Offred, though it is mostly one-sided.

Ofglen tries to get Offred to use Fred's affection for her to gain inside information, stating he is an important member of Gilead's government. Fred takes Offred to a brothel named Jezebel's for the evening, treating it as a date; however, he seems disappointed by Offred's lack of enthusiasm, simply treating it as an extension of her duties[3]. Commander Fred merely watches helplessly when Offred is taken away by the Eyes (or possibly rescued by Mayday)[4].

Offred gives birth to a daughter who is called Nicole in Gilead. Offred smuggles her out to Canada, though Gilead demands her back. Given Fred's high rank, Canada caves in, though Nicole disappears as soon as this is agreed - she is raised by adopted parents called Daisy and never reunited with her supposed parents, though Gilead agents make it their mission to hunt down Nicole abroad. Nicole becomes a legendary lost child, instilling a sense of the possibility of betrayal in Gilead amongst its populace.

It is unknown what ultimately became of the Commander. However, in the epilogue, it is suggested that is real identity was Commander Fred Waterford, who was one of the key founders and leaders of Gilead, who was executed in a political purge for harbouring an 'undesirable' (possibly referring to his Guardian, Nick, who claimed to be a member of Mayday)[5].

References Edit

  1. (XII Jezebels, section 32)
  2. VI Household, Section 14
  3. XII Jezebels
  4. XV Night
  5. Historical Notes
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