After the president and Congress were executed, a religious group took over what was left of the United States, renaming it the Republic of Gilead. Women are forbidden from reading and must wear the (conservative) dress that signifies their class. They no longer own property and must travel in pairs or with assigned Guardians. The only value in a woman is her ovaries. Handmaids exist only to bear children for their assigned Commanders and their barren Wives. Offred, the narrator of this tale, is a Handmaid who has grown used to the system but is disgruntled with it.