The new audiobook for The Handmaid’s Tale is now on Audible, which includes a radio drama styled as a Q&A that answers a few lingering questions about the book and its characters. However, it mostly left us with a big question of our own: Is Margaret Atwood setting up a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale?
In the final chapter of The Handmaid’s Tale, Professor Pieixoto is giving a guest lecture in Nunavit, Canada about the Gileadian Period of American history. He dives into how historians have tried to unearth more information about Gileadian culture, especially since so much of it was purged over the years, and how challenging it’s been to verify whether Offred’s story even happened. The extended version, performed by a full cast, follows up the novel’s final line: “Are there any questions?” Yeah, there are, professor, like a million of them. Here are a few of the most notable ones.
Where was the footlocker discovered?
According to Pieixoto, the footlocker that contained the secret audiotapes was found behind a false wall in “an ancient house”. The Gilead Museum was excavating the house to serve as inspiration for its village complex, a sort of Salem-type mock town where people could experience what life was like during the Gileadian Period. Hopefully it didn’t include a recreation of the fertility ritual.
Was Offred ever reunited with her child?
There’s no way of knowing, he says, but probably not.
Did the women of Gilead ever find domestic bliss?
One of Aunt Lydia’s biggest dreams was that women in households would achieve harmony, that the wives and the handmaids and the Marthas would all learn to live and love and work together. Turns out, that probably never happened. As the professor explains, there was no way to make the homes like polygamist groups of the past. In those societies, women got to keep their babies, but handmaids were essentially hosts until they gave birth and got sent away. Pieixoto adds that there were later attempts to let birth mothers stay in the homes with the kids, but the wives got jealous and that whole plan was scrapped pretty quickly.
Was Offred a secret rebel?
Here’s where things get interesting. An attendee asks the professor if Offred was hiding her own resistance efforts or political leanings. Pieixoto can’t confirm or deny this in an official capacity, but personally? Yeah, he totally believes Offred was political and worked hard to keep it hidden for her own safety. I sense sequel bait… and speaking of which…
Does the professor have records on the Mayday Rebellion?
Why yes, he does! When asked about possible accounts on the Mayday Rebellion, the group that worked on the inside to stop the Gileadean Empire, he says he has some new material but that he won’t be ready to share it for “a year or two”. He says it’s because he wants to verify its authenticity, but that definitely sounds like more might be on the way. Pieixoto also hints that there’s more than one Jezebel (secret sex club), so maybe those could be utilised as part of the expanded story and universe.
The professor closes out the chat by saying, “I hope to be able to present the results of our further Gileadian investigations to you at some future date.” When you consider that these are all words directly from Atwood herself, it definitely sounds like she’s setting us up for another book — and possibly a second season for the upcoming Hulu adaptation, which debuts in the US April 14. An Australian broadcaster has not been announced.