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.
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
Part 3, Chapter 11