The Reader

The Reader


Bernhard Schlink

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The Reader: Part 2, Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Michael decides to visit the judge but cannot bring himself to visit Hanna. Feeling hurt at being deceived, he questions whether he was no more to her than a reader and “little bedmate” to be used. He convinces himself that he is seeing the judge for the sake of justice, but as the narrator, he admits that he actually wanted to “meddle with her, have some kind of influence and effect on her.”
Michael’s previous resentment over Hanna’s dominance in their relationship resurfaces, motivating Michael to visit the judge in order to somehow influence her, as she had influenced him.
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
Aware of Michael’s seminar, the judge is friendly and happy to talk to him. They chat pleasantly about the seminar, Michael’s studies, and the judge’s own experiences in law school. Eventually, their conversation comes to an end without Michael mentioning Hanna. By the time Michael leaves, the numbness of the trial dulls his emotions and he is “no longer upset at having been left, deceived, and used by Hanna.” He feels as if he can “return to and continue to live [his] everyday life.”
Though Michael had grown resentful toward Hanna during the two weeks away from the trial, here he becomes numb again, perhaps as a result of meeting the judge and thus of the return of the trial. After the discussion of indifference (as related to perpetuating evil) that he’s just had, however, this numbness now seems more sinister than ever.
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon