The Reader

The Reader


Bernhard Schlink

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The Reader: Part 3, Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

The next week, a restless Michael keeps busy with a lecture and with the final arrangements for Hanna’s release. Though he tries to avoid thinking about Hanna and his upcoming visit, he can’t help thinking of their last moment together before Hanna left him. He feels, once again, as if he betrayed Hanna, but he fights against his guilt by thinking about how Hanna had “wriggled” out of her own guilt by allowing no one but the dead to hold her responsible for her actions. Michael feels that the living—that he—deserves to be able to call her to account too.
Michael is still torn between guilt and indignation. Michael’s belief that Hanna is not taking full responsibility for her guilt and that the living should be able to call her to account evokes sentiments from the student protests—the idea that the generation of Nazis, sympathizers, and bystanders owe their children, the next generation, answers.
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
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Related Quotes
The day before Michael is scheduled to pick Hanna up, he calls her at the prison, asking her to think about what she wants to do the next day. Hanna teases him for still being “a big planner,” and Michael notices that, despite her appearance and smell, Hanna’s voice still sounds young.
By making plans with Hanna, Michael shows that he is finally ready to take responsibility for his relationship with her. Finally he starts to recognize in her the woman he once loved.
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon