The Reader

The Reader

The Reader Part 2, Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While the other defendants receive terms in jails, Hanna is sentenced to life. The courtroom is full and loud the day the verdict is to be announced. When the defendants appear, a hush falls over the crowd as they whisper to each other, “Look!”
The crowd in the court voyeuristically watches the verdict, making a spectacle of the defendants’ fates.
Themes
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
The Image as Memory and the Gaze Theme Icon
Hanna is dressed in a black suit with a white shirt, which makes it look as if she is a uniform. Though Michael had never seen the SS uniform for women, he and the other spectators strongly associate Hanna’s clothes with the SS. Outraged, the spectators whisper to each other and soon begin shouting out at her. While the verdict is announced, Michael stares at Hanna, who “looked straight ahead and through everything” with “a proud, wounded, lost, and infinitely tired look.”
The crowd takes voyeuristic pleasure in condemning Hanna, who does not seem to understand the impression that her appearance gives to the court. Despite the crowd’s jeering, Hanna tries to maintain the professional demeanor that she had upheld as a Nazi prison guard and that hindered her defense. It’s suggested that her “infinitely tired” look comes from the years spent guarding her secret.
Themes
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
The Image as Memory and the Gaze Theme Icon