In the book Handmaid's Tale there are machines that print out prayers on paper and then read the prayer out loud.

I believe that this has something to do with the position of women in the Gilead. The woman orders the prayer by touch tone phone and a machine prays it. Even the machines are allowed to read but women are not. In addition they cannot talk directly to God.

But at the Soul Scroll store they can see the machines printing out the prayers. Why is this allowed if women are not permitted to read?

  • 1
    It’s useful practice for the girls to avoid temptation! Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 5:20
  • I solved the question by having the Soul Scroll print out prayers as QR Codes. Now only the computer can read the prayer. Watch the video to see how.
    – B Johnson
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 12:48

1 Answer 1


There's no indication that the prayers can be read from outside the thick, shatterproof windows, only that the paper can be seen to move around inside the machines. The prayer is evidently printed, read aloud by the machine (but not in a way that can be discerned) and then immediately dropped into feed hopper to be recycled.

Once the prayers have been printed out and said, the paper rolls back through another slot and is recycled into fresh paper again.


Ofglen and I stand outside Soul Scrolls, looking through the shatterproof windows, watching the prayers well out from the machines and disappear again through the slot, back to the realm of the unsaid.

If I were feeling ungenerous, I'd suggest that the whole thing is a scam to extract money from the faithful into the coffers of the party and that no printing is taking place at all, just a machine that cycles reels of paper endlessly and makes a vague noise to satisfy the curious.

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