The Handmaid’s Tale

by: Margaret Atwood

What Does the Ending Mean?

At the end of the novel, Offred is ushered out of the Commander’s house by Eyes, who may or may not be members of the rebel group Mayday. In the final “Historical Notes” section, we learn that the Eyes were indeed members of Mayday. An academic, Dr. Piexoto, explains that the novel we have read is a transcript of a tape recording, discovered many years after the Gileadean era has come to an end. The ending of Offred’s story emphasizes her passivity. She never takes a stand against the Gileadean regime. She escapes only because Nick, a rebel, needs to protect himself. However, the “Historical Notes” section underlines that despite her passivity Offred’s experience has value. Dr. Piexoto, a man, makes light of Offred’s experience, insisting that his audience should not judge the Gileadean regime. He even suggests that a document written by the Commander would have more value than Offred’s testimony. Yet it is Offred’s voice, her story, and her judgments which remain with us, not Dr. Piexoto’s academic posturing.