The Reader

The Reader

A philosophy professor who is distant from his wife and children. Though he doesn’t appear often in the story, Michael’s father and their relationship are mentioned more often than his other family members. Growing up, Michael often believed that his father regards the rest of the family as his “pets”—that though his father may be fond of them, they do not occupy a significant portion of his mind or time, which are devoted almost entirely to his work. This is evident from the fact that Michael and his siblings would always have to schedule appointments if they wanted to speak to their father. When Michael arranges a meeting to seek his advice, he speaks not as his father but as a philosopher. However, during this conversation, his father seems to regret his past neglect of his family, as he is unexpectedly emotional.

Michael’s Father Quotes in The Reader

The The Reader quotes below are all either spoken by Michael’s Father or refer to Michael’s Father. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:

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Part 3, Chapter 1 Quotes

I had no one to point at. Certainly not my parents, because I had nothing to accuse them of…. But what other people in my social environment had done, and their guilt, were in any case a lot less bad than what Hanna had done. I had to point at Hanna. But the finger I pointed at her turned back to me. I had loved her. Not only had I loved her, I had chosen her. I tried to tell myself that I had known nothing of what she had done when I chose her. I tried to talk myself into the state of innocence in which children love their parents. But love of our parents is the only love for which we are not responsible.

Related Characters: Michael Berg (speaker), Hanna Schmitz (Frau Shmitz), Michael’s Father, Michael’s mother
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Michael’s Father Character Timeline in The Reader

The timeline below shows where the character Michael’s Father appears in The Reader. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 7
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
Michael’s father “looked thoughtful, the way he always did when [his] mother talked to him about the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 11
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
...had earlier proposed. The narrator then wonders excuse what he had told his mother and father, but he cannot remember. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 12
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
...with Hanna, Michael does remember what he had to do to convince his mother and father to let him stay home alone for the last week of his vacation while the... (full context)
The Image as Memory and the Gaze Theme Icon
...stretched out in front of her, Hanna riding her bike, and Hanna standing in his father’s study, her eyes looking tired. (full context)
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
The Image as Memory and the Gaze Theme Icon
In the study, Hanna asks Michael to read something from one of his father’s books. Though he does, neither of them understands it. Hanna asks if he will write... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
Michael decides to seek his father’s advice, not because they are close but because of the distance between them. During Michael’s... (full context)
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
Michael presents his problem as an abstract and in examples, but his father deduces that it has to do with the trial. His father thinks about the problem,... (full context)
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
...he could face Hanna, however, and though he knows the question is immaterial, asks his father what he should do if he can’t talk to her. His father realizes that he... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
...Michael feels that he has no one else to blame, especially not his mother and father, whom he is now embarrassed to have condemned during his concentration camps seminar. Michael realizes... (full context)