After Michael separates from Gertrud, he becomes restless. Feeling haunted by Hanna, he records himself on tape reading The Odyssey and other works aloud. Eventually, eight years into Hanna’s prison sentence, he sends her the tapes and continues sending them to her for the next ten years, until she is granted clemency. He records his favorites, German writers such as Theodor Fontane and Eduard Mörike, as well as poetry and his own writing, but never leaves any personal messages for Hanna.
Though Michael now reads to Hanna aloud again, just as he did during their affair, this time he does so at a distance. He records his reading on tape and never leaves any personal messages for her, suggesting that though he may still feel a sense of responsibility toward her, they cannot resume the relationship as it once was.