Literature Study GuidesThe Handmaids TaleHistorical Notes On The Handmaids Tale Summary

The Handmaid's Tale | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale | Historical Notes on The Handmaid's Tale | Summary



This section is presented as a transcript of a scholarly conference given in the distant future, on June 25, 2195. Gilead is now a period of time in the past that historians study. Introduced by Professor Moon, Professor Pieixoto gives a presentation entitled "Problems of Authentication in Reference to The Handmaid's Tale." Cassette tapes that contain the story of The Handmaid's Tale, he says, have been found in a footlocker in Maine at the site of a well-known station of the Underground Femaleroad, suggesting that Offred survives her escape and makes it at least as far as Maine. He and a colleague transcribe and sequence the story from 30 tapes. The professor outlines scholars' attempts to identify the narrator and other characters and their conclusions about the causes and nature of Gilead society. He speculates that Offred may have escaped to England.


This final section tells us that Offred did escape successfully. Although her ultimate fate is unknown, the story for which she imagined an audience is being shared.

It is significant that by the year 2195, a university has a department of Caucasian anthropology; white behavior is now something to be studied. The chair is a woman, Maryann Crescent Moon.

It is also significant that Professor Pieixoto, a man, claims credit for the sequencing of the story, a further "reconstruction" of the tale of this woman.

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