The Reader

The Reader

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The Reader Part 1, Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Hanna is gone. Her apartment is empty, and Michael calls Hanna’s streetcar company to find that she hasn’t been to work. He tracks down the owner of the Bahnhofstrasse building and is told that Hanna moved out that morning. He then goes to the streetcar company, where a man tells him that Hanna had rejected a promotion as a driver. Eventually, Michael visits the citizens’ registration office, which informs him that Hanna had said she was moving to Hamburg.
Hanna’s secrecy about her illiteracy leads her to make a sudden and unexplained departure, causing not only emotional but also physical distance between herself and Michael. This abrupt disappearance has a huge effect on Michael’s life.
Themes
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
Days pass, and though Michael feels sick, he hides it from his family and friends. When he goes to the swimming pool, he stays in a remote part where he won’t have to talk to others. Longing for Hanna, Michael is filled with guilt for not having immediately greeted her at the pool, and he believes that her departure was punishment.
Michael begins to feel even more guilt about Hanna, blaming himself (as he has always done whenever they had a conflict) and now actively distances himself from his friends as well.
Themes
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
The Image as Memory and the Gaze Theme Icon