The Reader

The Reader


Bernhard Schlink

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The driver who allows Michael to hitchhike with him to Struthof, a nearby concentration camp. When Michael tells the driver where he is going, the man rants that it was not hatred of the Jews, orders, or obedience that led to their mass murder, but rather indifference. When the driver describes in detail the mentality of a particular soldier killing Jews in a photograph, Michael asks the driver if he was the soldier—and is kicked out of the car.

The Driver Quotes in The Reader

The The Reader quotes below are all either spoken by The Driver or refer to The Driver. 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 2, Chapter 14 Quotes

“You're right, there was no war, and no reason for hatred. But executioners don't hate the people they execute, and they execute them all the same. Because they're ordered to? You think they do it because they're ordered to? And you think that I'm talking about orders and obedience, that the guards in the camps were under orders and had to obey?” He laughed sarcastically. “No, I'm not talking about orders and obedience. An executioner is not under orders. He's doing his work, he doesn't hate the people he executes, he's not taking revenge on them, he's not killing them because they're in his way or threatening him or attacking him. They're a matter of such indifference to him that he can kill them as easily as not.”

Related Characters: The Driver (speaker), Michael Berg
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Reader PDF

The Driver Character Timeline in The Reader

The timeline below shows where the character The Driver appears in The Reader. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 14
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
...“clichés,” Michael decides to visit Struthof, a concentration camp in Alsace. He hitchhikes, and his driver asks him why he is visiting the camp. Michael tells him about the trial and... (full context)
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
The Image as Memory and the Gaze Theme Icon
Expecting Michael to contradict him, the driver assumes that he was raised to believe in “human dignity” and “reverence for life,” mockingly... (full context)