The Reader

The Reader

Cassette Tapes Symbol Icon

Eight years into Hanna’s term in prison, Michael makes a series of cassette tapes of himself reading books aloud to her. The tapes are, in a way, a resurrection of their previous relationship, as Michael would always read aloud to Hanna before they slept together. Though the cassettes represent Michael’s continuing connection to Hanna and his way of speaking to her, they also represent Michael’s distance. Michael never leaves Hanna any personal messages on the tapes nor writes back to her when she finally learns how to read. The tapes form the “small niche, certainly an important niche” that Michael dedicates to Hanna, but no more than that.

Cassette Tapes Quotes in The Reader

The The Reader quotes below all refer to the symbol of Cassette Tapes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Reader published in 1997.
Part 3, Chapter 5 Quotes

I also read books I already knew and loved. So Hanna got to hear a great deal of Keller and Fontane, Heine and Morike. For a long time I didn't dare to read poetry, but eventually I really enjoyed it, and I learned many of the poems I read by heart. I can still say them today.
Taken together, the titles in the notebook testify to a great and fundamental confidence in bourgeois culture. I do not ever remember asking myself whether I should go beyond Kafka, Frisch, Johnson, Bachmann, and Lenz, and read experimental literature, literature in which I did not recognize the story or like any of the characters. To me it was obvious that experimental literature was experimenting with the reader, and Hanna didn't need that and neither did I.

Related Characters: Michael Berg (speaker), Hanna Schmitz (Frau Shmitz)
Related Symbols: Cassette Tapes
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

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Cassette Tapes Symbol Timeline in The Reader

The timeline below shows where the symbol Cassette Tapes appears in The Reader. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3, Chapter 5
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
...Michael separates from Gertrud, he becomes restless. Feeling haunted by Hanna, he records himself on tape reading The Odyssey and other works aloud. Eventually, eight years into Hanna’s prison sentence, he... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 6
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
Four years after Michael starts sending Hanna the tapes, Hanna sends him a hand-written note thanking him. The handwriting looks like child’s writing, but... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 8
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
...aloud to her. Though Michael does not outwardly agree, he cannot see himself either recording tapes for her or reading to her in person. He tells her how proud he was... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 10
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
...warning signs during their phone call, how they knew each other, why he sent the tapes, and how he knew she was illiterate. Michael tells her that he hadn’t noticed anything... (full context)
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
The warden tells him that Hanna taught herself to read with Michael’s tapes by comparing the sound recording to books she borrowed from the prison library. As Michael... (full context)