The Handmaid's Tale Wiki
The Handmaid's Tale Wiki
Nick (Novel)

Nick (Novel) is a character in The Handmaid's Tale novel.


Nothing is known about Nick's life prior to the rise of Gilead, or even after that. All that is really known about him is that he became a Guardian and was assigned to the household of Commander Fred Waterford. Nick lives in the household with the Waterfords over the garage. Offred suspects that Nick is an Eye because she believed he was too casual for a Guardian.

Offred finds Nick attractive. He is described by Offred to have 'a French face, lean, whimsical, all planes and angles, with creases around the mouth where he smiles.' The night after the Ceremony, Offred slips out of bed. Nick approaches her in the sitting room, alone, and speaks with her, which is forbidden. They shared a moment but did not last because both thought it was too risky. Nick told Offred that the Commander wanted to see her the following night. Nick escorts her to see the Commander in his study, the Commander trusts his silence and drives them to Jezebel's.

After Offred's night at Jezebel's, Serena Joy secretly arranges for Offred to visit Nick in his rooms and sleep with him to conceive a child. Offred sleeps with Nick willingly. She quickly develops feelings for him and he seems to reciprocate. Offred opens up to him, telling him a great deal about herself and her life prior to Gilead. Towards the end of the novel, Offred believes she's pregnant and tells Nick, as the baby is almost certainly his. Nick seems happy and saddened by the news as he will not be able to play an active role in the child's life.

Character plot[]

Section 4[]

As Offred leaves the house to go shopping, Offred notices Nick, a Guardian of the Faith, washing the Commander’s car. Nick lives above the garage. He winks at Offred —an offense— but she ignores him, fearing that he may be an Eye, a spy assigned to test her. [1]

Section 8[]

When Offred reaches the Commander’s driveway she passes Nick, who breaks the rules by asking her about her walk. She says nothing and goes into the house. [2]

Section 14[]

After bathing and eating, Offred must attend the Ceremony with the rest of the household. The Commander is always late for the Ceremony. Serena sits while Offred kneels on the floor. Rita, Cora, and Nick stand behind Offred. Nick’s shoe touches Offred’s. She shifts her foot away, but he moves his foot so it touches hers again. [3]

Section 17[]

As she stands in the sitting room, she senses the presence of someone behind her in the room. It is Nick. Neither of them are supposed to be downstairs. Wordlessly, they kiss, and she longs to have sex with him right there. She thinks of Luke, telling him he would understand, then thinking he wouldn’t. Sex is too dangerous, and Nick and Offred separate. Nick whispers that the Commander sent him to find her. The Commander wants to see her in his office tomorrow.[4]

Section 25[]

Spring gives way to summer, and Offred continues to meet the Commander in his office at night. They develop a system of signals so that Serena will not realize what is going on. If Nick is polishing the car hatless, or hat askew, the Commander wants Offred to come see him. [5]

Section 28[]

Looking out her window, Offred sees Nick come into the yard and notices that his hat is askew. She wonders, idly, what he gets out of facilitating her forbidden liaisons with the Commander, and she remembers their fleeting kiss in the darkened living room. [6]

Section 30[]

Later that night, Offred stares through her window and catches sight of Nick. She senses the charge of sexual desire in the glance they exchange before she pulls the curtains closed. She remembers the day she and Luke tried to escape from Gilead. They did not pack anything because they did not want to look as if they were leaving permanently. [7]

Section 31[]

When Offred reaches the house, she notes that Nick’s hat is askew. Serena calls Offred over and asks her to hold the wool while she knits. She asks if there is any sign of pregnancy. When Offred indicates there is not, Serena suggests that the Commander may be sterile. After a moment of hesitation, Offred agrees that it is possible. Serena suggests she try another man, since Offred’s time is running out. Serena says Nick would be the safest possibility, and then offers to let Offred see a picture of her daughter if she agrees. Blinded by sudden hate for Serena, Offred nonetheless agrees, and Serena gives her a cigarette as a reward and instructs her to ask Rita for a match.[8]

Section 36[]

When Offred goes to see the Commander that night, he seems drunk. He speaks playfully with her and gives her a skimpy outfit decorated with feathers and sequins. He wants to take her out, he claims, using an expression from pre-Gilead days; she agrees to go. She dons the costume and puts cheap makeup on her face. She wears one of Serena’s blue winter cloaks when he escorts her out of the house. Nick is waiting for them in the car, and they drive through darkened city streets. Offred hides on the floor when they pass the gateway. [9]

Offred finds herself worrying about Nick’s opinion of her. The car stops in an alley, and the Commander helps Offred out of the robe. He opens a door with a key and slips a purple tag around Offred’s wrist, instructing her to tell anyone who asks that she is an “evening rental.” As Offred enters the building, she imagines Moira calling her an idiot for going along with this.[9]

Section 40[]

Back in her room at the Commander’s house, Offred has removed her makeup and put on her Handmaid clothes. Serena plans to meet her at midnight to take her to Nick so that Offred and Nick can have sex. In the middle of the night, Serena comes and tells Offred to go to Nick’s apartment. Serena will wait for Offred to return.[10]

Offred twice tells the story of what happens next. The first story, thick with passion and desire, is told in the breathy language of a romance novel. The second, probably more accurate, is awkward, uncertain, and full of sadness for the lost courtship rituals of the pre-Gilead world. “No romance . . . okay?” Nick says before they begin. Offred takes pleasure in the act this time. Offred says that neither of the versions is completely accurate, that every story is by nature a reconstruction. After sleeping with Nick, she feels ashamed. She feels she betrayed Luke and wonders if she would feel differently if she knew Luke was dead.[10]

Section 41[]

Offred continues to see Nick at night without Serena’s knowledge. She feels thankful each time he opens the door to her. He never says much, but she finds herself telling him about Moira and Ofglen. She tells him her real name. She never mentions Luke. Eventually, she tells him she thinks she is pregnant, although privately she feels this is wishful thinking. [11]

Section 46[]

When the Eyes come for Offred, Nick comes to her room to collect her, making Offred believe he has been an Eye all along, which she had secretly feared. However, Nick tells her that he is a member of Mayday and the van is here to take her to safety. Offred doesn't know if she believes him, and it is not confirmed if Nick is truly a member of Mayday or not. She walks down the stairs to meet the men waiting for her. Serena demands to know Offred’s crime, and Offred realizes Serena was not the one to call these men. The men say they cannot tell her. The Commander demands to see a warrant, and the Eyes—or the men from Mayday, perhaps—say that she is being arrested for “violation of state secrets.” As Serena curses her, Offred follows the Eyes to the van waiting outside.[12]

Historical Notes []

According to Professor Pieixoto, Nick’s motivation cannot be understood fully; he reveals that Nick was a member both of the Eyes and of Mayday, and that the men he called were sent to rescue Offred. He adds that one Commander, Fred Waterford - who may have been Offred's Commander -, was arrested and executed by the regime in the early years of Gilead for harboring an infidel in his household, who could've been Nick. This would imply Nick was indeed a rebel and helped Offred escape, though what ultimately became of him is unknown. [13]