Historical Notes on The Handmaid?s Tale?
The Handmaid?s Tale by Margaret Atwood is an intriguing look into a
darker one of infinite possibilities that our future as a country offers. The
entire novel through the questions linger somewhere in the back of our
minds, ?When if Offred writing this? Is she writing it?? The origin of the
novel is a mystery until the epilogue is read, and then some answers are
presented, of course, many more arise, thus making the final sentence in the
book both comical and clever, as well as frustrating.
Why end the novel with that epilogue? Atwood takes a large step
towards losing her audience?s favor with the epilogue, there were many
members of our class alone that didn?t like the final ending, and I?m sure the
class is a somewhat decent representation of the readers as whole. I
personally enjoyed the novel itself, and looked at the Historical Notes in a
different light, as if they weren?t really part of the novel at all, and therefore I
found them interesting, but less than imperative to enjoy the novel. So,
Atwood is not looking for a pat on the back with the ending, I believe she
means something else by it.
The ending of the novel leaves a large question unanswered; what ever
happened to Offred? Well, the epilogue allows the reader to guess here and
there, but really answers the question no better than the novel on its own. We
discover that she was able to make tapes of her thoughts at some point after
her ?escape,? but other than that, we learn nothing about her final outcome,
and what is ironic is that the speaker at the Historical Convention seems just
as confused as the reader might as to Offred?s resting place.
Also, the reader remains in the dark as to who indeed did take her
away? Was it really ?Mayday,? as Nick reports, or was that a whim, another
trick by the Eyes to get her to come away with them. We will never know,
and I believe that by leaving these things out of the notes, rather than making
them an explanation for the novel, accredits Atwood and makes her her own
author, and shows that she writes novels how she feels they should be, and
explains herself to no one.