The Handmaid’s Tale—“The
Read the following quotes from “The Historical Notes.”
“[Offred] was a patronymic,
composed of the possessive preposition and the first name of the gentleman
in question” (305).
“As I have said elsewhere,
there was little that was truly original with or indigenous to Gilead: its
genius was synthesis” (307).
- How would you describe the diction of these
- What do these sentences sound like (a.k.a. Where
would you be likely to hear sentence like these….. In what context might
someone say something like this to you?)
Read the italicized information on page 299 carefully, and
note the date mentioned. Put that together with clues from pages 300 and
305. During what decade did Gilead begin?
Re-read the italicized lines on page 299. Given the
information in these lines, what has happened to the society of Gilead?
What do you make of the names of the chair and the speaker?
While reading the “Notes,” consider what we find out about Offred’s
narrative in this speech. How was The Handmaid’s Tale created,
preserved, and ultimately presented “for us” to “read?”
Consider the 2nd quote listed in question 1. What does it
mean? Be specific in your answer by drawing on the details the “keynote
speaker” of the “Notes” give to the audience.
And finally…. What’s the point? Clearly (as you should have realized
from question 2), these “Notes” are just another part of the fiction of this
novel. Why are they here? What functions (note functionS is plural)
do “The Historical Notes” serve in this book?