The Reader

The Reader


Bernhard Schlink

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The Reader: Part 1, Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Around this time, Michael begins to “betray” Hanna by keeping her secret from his friends. Michael, Sophie, and their friend Holger often go to the pool together, but Michael finds himself unable to talk about Hanna with them. Sophie asks Michael if his disappearances to spend time with Hanna have something to do with the hepatitis he had come down with earlier. Michael tells her that he is no longer sick, but is still unwilling to talk to her about Hanna. He offers to tell her another time, but that time never comes.
Just as Michael’s illness magnified his guilty desire into a “labyrinth,” now Michael treats his desire for Hanna as an illness by covering it up. Whereas Michael once felt guilty for desiring Hanna, now he feels guilty for keeping her a secret and thus for disavowing her. His secrecy about Hanna forms a wedge between himself and his friends, just as it did with his family.
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon