The novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood creates a view of the world that is incredibly unique. One of the many things that adds to this being a one of a kind story is the fact that Atwood concluded the story with a section entitled “Historical Notes”. By making this little end section something different than just a small ending chapter or an epilogue Atwood creates a different feel that is difficult to find in other dystopian stories.
The biggest thing that the “Historical Notes” does is lend the story an air of authenticity. For one thing, these notes help place Gilead in context with the rest of the world such as when the Doctor discusses the “various Save the Women societies, of which there were many in the British Isles at that time” (Atwood 304). By making those opposed to the Gilead method more organized and placing them in a different country, Atwood creates just another layer of detail that adds strength to her story. Additionally, I believe the “Historical Notes” lends a second and more important idea of realism. Dr. Pieixoto discusses the fact that no one can judge the individuals who lived then because the times were different. This is a notion employed today when learning about past abuses and makes the story of Gilead all the more real to the reader. By changing the very end of the book to a look back on a previous dark time Atwood lends an authenticity to the novel that would otherwise be difficult to cling to.