This final section of The Handmaid’s Tale leaves readers with a lot of unanswered questions. Chapter 40 begins with an unreliable account from Offred regarding her interactions with Nick. As we have discussed in reference to many of the works we’ve read this semester, individuals choose to reconfigure memories in order to cope with them. In reference to her encounters with Nick, Offred notes that “I made that up. It didn’t happen that way” (261). This uncertainty feeds into the ambivalence of the novel’s final scene.
A blog post about this final section would be incomplete without mentioning the scene where Serena Joy confronts Offred. Serena Joy summons Offred to reveal that she found her winter cloak with lipstick on it and the sequin purple costume. Serena Joy is clearly disgusted with Offred; however, I suspect that these feelings stem from the fact that Offred has a relationship with the Commander that deviates from the purpose of her role as a handmaid, bearing a child.
The novel ends with Offred waiting in her room to find out her punishment from Serena Joy. As she brainstorms potential ways to escape her penalty, the Eye’s black van arrives at the house. Nick enters her room to tell her not to worry as the members of the Eye who are here to take her are apart of Mayday. Serena Joy and the Commander do not understand what Offred has done. This confusion reveals that they were not the individuals who called the Eyes. The Eyes declare that they do not need a warrant due to “violation of state secrets.” This ominous ending relates to both Offred’s relationships with both Nick and the Commander. I can’t help but wonder what Offred’s relationship with Nick was truly like, and if that influenced the novel’s final scene. I might have to read the sequel as I am extremely curious as to what happens to Offred.