The Reader

The Reader

The Reader Part 1, Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator compares the failure of his relationship with Hanna to the failures of an airplane’s engines. Like airplanes, which do not immediately fall out of the sky but rather glide, Michael’s love for Hanna began to fail without either of them noticing. They maintain their ritual of reading, showering, and sex. When Michael reads Tolstoy’s War and Peace to Hanna, she is “absorbed” but doesn’t comment as enthusiastically as before.
Michael and Hanna’s relationship begins to dwindle. Hanna’s less enthusiastic response to their latest reading session is perhaps partly because Tolstoy’s novel is more concerned with questions of ethics and morality than the previous romances Michael had read her, and partly because Hanna, as the novel will later reveal, is now preoccupied with the thought of leaving to hide her illiteracy from her employers.
Themes
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
Michael and Hanna begin to call each other pet names. In addition to Kid, Hanna calls him Frog, Toad, Puppy, Toy, and Rose. When Hanna asks Michael what animal she reminds him of, he responds with “a horse,” because of the muscles in her body. Turning over Michael’s answer in her mind, Hanna is unusually uncertain but eventually decides that she likes it. One day, Hanna and Michael go to the theater in the next town to see a Schiller play. Though Michael doesn’t care what people will think of them together in the theater, he realizes that he would care in their own town.
Though Michael and Hanna call each other pet names, apparently growing closer to each other, they maintain a certain distance from each other’s lives by hiding their relationship from others. Though Michael was initially proud to be seen with Hanna, now he realizes that he would be embarrassed for his friends to see him with her, just as he would be embarrassed to be seen with his mother.
Themes
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
Michael begins to spend more and more time at the swimming pool with his classmates, and becomes torn between spending time with his friends and spending time with Hanna. Whenever Michael becomes annoyed with Hanna’s bad temper, he wants to spend more time at the pool, but when Hanna “treated [him] like a nonentity,” he becomes afraid of losing her and begs for forgiveness, but also becomes increasingly resentful.
Tension between Michael and Hanna mounts, as Michael becomes closer to his peers and thus to his own generation. Hanna, however, still stubbornly domineers Michael, as well as their relationship, causing Michael to resent her even as he continues to need and desire her.
Themes
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon