The ending of The Handmaid's Tale is abrupt, and in some ways dissatisfying. Why is the reader left uncertain as to Offred's fate? Why is the reader never told her real name? Why do we learn what happened to the Commander, but not what happened to Nick? One possible explanation for these choices is that Atwood thought that The Handmaid's Tale would have more of an impact if she left it without a clear ending. Atwood has stated her belief that the novel is a vehicle for social change, and useful for furthering human understanding. By forcing us to think about the end of Offred's story through the lens of the Historical Notes, Atwood urges the reader to think about why they feel as they do - even if what they feel is dissatisfied and ambivalent - rather than allowing them to experience a simple, emotional reaction to a powerful story.