The Reader

The Reader

The Tea Tin Symbol Icon

When Michael visits the Jewish woman to give her Hanna’s money, she tells him the story of how someone at the concentration camps had stolen her tea tin, which was full of her childhood treasures, not for its contents but to use the metal for some sinister but unspecified purpose. Though she does not accept responsibility for Hanna’s money, the woman does keep the tea tin in which Hanna’s money was stored. The woman’s decision to take Hanna’s tea tin but not its contents is perhaps a way of reclaiming her experience at the camps, and to reclaim at least a small part of what was taken from her at the hands of the Nazis. At the same time, her rejection of the tin’s contents—like the Nazis’ dismissal of her childhood treasures within the original tea tin—is a rejection of what Michael interprets to be Hanna’s desire to be recognized for her atonement.

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The Tea Tin Symbol Timeline in The Reader

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Tea Tin appears in The Reader. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3, Chapter 10
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
The warden then shows Michael Hanna’s cell. Its shelves are filled with tea tin s, his tapes, and books. Michael remarks that some of the tapes are missing, and... (full context)
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Reading and Illiteracy Theme Icon
...write back to her. Michael is silent, so the warden, picking up one of Hanna’s tea tin s, takes out a paper that turns out to be Hanna’s suicide note. Hanna had... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 11
Guilt, Responsibility, and the Holocaust Theme Icon
Secrets, Indifference, and Emotional Distance Theme Icon
Generational and Parent-Child Conflict Theme Icon
The Image as Memory and the Gaze Theme Icon
When Michael takes out the tea tin and a check, the Jewish woman leaves the check on the table and empties the... (full context)