The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers
What is the function of the chapter titled “Historical Notes”?

The chapter titled “Historical Notes” takes the form of an academic paper presented at a conference in the post-Gilead era. This section gives Atwood the opportunity to explain how Offred was able to narrate her story and hints at what happened to her after she left the Commander’s home. It also provides additional context to the Gileadean society, which was quite narrowly focused through Offred’s point of view. Readers, for instance, discover that Gilead lasted only several hundred years, a relatively short period of ascendancy.