The Reader

The Reader

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Michael’s older brother Character Analysis

Like Michael’s other siblings, his brother also appears only rarely in the novel. Michael tells us that he shared a room with his brother and as young boys they often fought, either physically or verbally. Michael’s brother, who is older by three years, likes to complain about him and tries to get Michael in trouble.

Michael’s older brother Quotes in The Reader

The The Reader quotes below are all either spoken by Michael’s older brother or refer to Michael’s older brother. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of The Reader published in 1997.
Part 1, Chapter 7 Quotes

I felt as if we were sitting all together for the last time around the round table under the five-armed, five-candled brass chandelier, as if we were eating our last meal off the old plates with the green vine-leaf border, as if we would never talk to each other so intimately again. I felt as if I were saying goodbye. I was still there and already gone. I was homesick for my mother and father and my brother and sisters, and I longed to be with the woman.

Related Characters: Michael Berg (speaker), Hanna Schmitz (Frau Shmitz), Michael’s Father, Michael’s mother, Michael’s older sister, Michael’s older brother, Michael’s younger sister
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

After Michael returns home from his first sexual encounter with Hanna, he feels suddenly nostalgic for his family. Though he is surrounded by his parents and siblings at dinner, he feels distant from them, as if he were “already gone.”

This is the novel’s first instance of the wedge that Hanna will form between Michael and those around him. As Hanna herself is distant from Michael, the fact that Michael mirrors this distance in his other relationships suggests that emotional distance fosters emotional distance. After Hanna leaves him, this distance worsens and later sabotages Michael’s marriage, friendships, and other relationships.

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