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The End of Handmaid’s Tale

After the scene of Offred’s “escape” (for better or for worse), I was feeling a little better about her story. In the sense that I thought to myself, “At least she got out.” Despite having not really cared much for Nick before the end of the book, it was a surprise to me that he called in people to help her at the end (or at least that seems to be the consensus of what happened).

That aside, the part that I have the most strong feelings about is actual the historical notes section. I just couldn’t stand the fact that she went out of her way, maybe even risking her life to do so, to record her story and then these guys find it and instead of treating her story like something worth hearing, they complain about how she didn’t give more details about the men involved in her story. They give a lecture not on the actual “document” (because they hesitate to even call it that) but on the speculation of who the Commander might have been and the impactful things the two men they narrowed it down to did for Gileadean society. What bothers me most about it is that previously in the story Offred talks about how “family portraits” were taken, but they never included the handmaids, which meant that in the future when someone looks back on their history, the handmaids will have been erased from it, forgotten. She tries so hard to make sure that doesn’t happen by telling her own story. She tells us it’s a story she doesn’t want to tell, but she does it anyway, because she knows how important it is. All of that, and these two dudes find her story just to talk over it and erase it anyway. Man, it was so disheatening.

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4 Comments

  1. David Ataide David Ataide

    I agree with your statement that the ending was disheartening. If anything it is a reminder to consider every aspect of history, and not just the side that you find “interesting.” In times of historical study, always consider the true moral of the story. Just like in class, if one is visiting a southern plantation, maybe stop and focus on the atrocities that were committed there instead of focusing on a “Gone With the Wind” romantic fantasy.

  2. Sara Messervey Sara Messervey

    Ok, so I 100% agree with this assessment, and I definitely think that erasure of women’s voices was the point at the end. Men were presenting her story, reflecting on her story as it related to men (Serena Joy was hardly mentioned), and questioning the truth of her words. They’ve again stripped the emotion from her narrative and focused purely on how “rational” and “accurate” the account was, and question this narrative of a woman, while Limpkin’s diary, which they constantly compare her story too for the purpose of “fact-checking,” was accepted without the speculation that Offred’s seemed to draw. This definitely feels like commentary on how we look back at historical atrocities committed against women today through the lens of male voices and without truly considering the horrors these women experienced because they are long dead and buried.

  3. Katherine Fell Katherine Fell

    I definitely agree with how the Historical Notes feels like a knife in the back after reading such an intense story. Offred went through so much and risked her life to make sure this story was shared, and in the end she was still discredited because of her gender. It’s crazy to see that society sees itself as having come so far since the days of Gilead, but women are still not treated with the respect that they deserve. This ties to our current culture, where we want to believe that we have made strides towards gender equality in comparison to how much worse women have been treated historically, but we in reality have a long ways to go.

  4. Alexander Bogomolov Alexander Bogomolov

    I really liked the point you made about the handmaids’ absence in “family portraits.” I guess I assumed even though handmaids will likely not be recorded in images from Gilead, rare historical documents such as Offred’s recordings will keep the story of the handmaids alive, but the Historical Notes also reminded me that even with the direct accounts, it is too easy to forget stories that matter and the stories of those who suffer in dark times.

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