Dependence of Hanna - The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Michael's development in the relationship with Hanna Schmitz plays a very important role. In the beginning, this relationship is described more as a mother- child. The The Reader quotes below are all either spoken by Hanna Schmitz (Frau and the woman, laughing, probes Michael about his relationship with Hanna. Kate Winslet, left, and David Kross in The Reader A year-old lad named Michael Berg (David Kross, giving a splendidly modulated He is rescued by an attractive working-class woman named Hanna (Kate Winslet in a I'm not certain that Schlink's novel or this film makes that connection explicit.
She lives in New York City when Michael visits her near the end of the story, still suffering from the loss of her own family. Part 1[ edit ] The story is told in three parts by the main character, Michael Berg. Each part takes place in a different time period in the past. Part I begins in a West German city in After year-old Michael becomes ill on his way home, year-old tram conductor Hanna Schmitz notices him, cleans him up, and sees him safely home.
He spends the next three months absent from school battling hepatitis. He visits Hanna to thank her for her help and realizes he is attracted to her.
Embarrassed after she catches him watching her getting dressed, he runs away, but he returns days later. After she asks him to retrieve coal from her cellar, he is covered in coal dust; she watches him bathe and seduces him. He returns eagerly to her apartment on a regular basis, and they begin a heated affair. They develop a ritual of bathing and having sex, before which she frequently has him read aloud to her, especially classical literature, such as The Odyssey and Chekhov 's The Lady with the Dog.
Both remain somewhat distant from each other emotionally, despite their physical closeness. Hanna is at times physically and verbally abusive to Michael. Months into the relationship, she suddenly leaves without a trace. The distance between them had been growing as Michael had been spending more time with his school friends; he feels guilty and believes it was something he did that caused her departure. The memory of her taints all his other relationships with women.
Part 2[ edit ] Six years later, while attending law school, Michael is part of a group of students observing a war crimes trial. A group of middle-aged women who had served as SS guards at a satellite of Auschwitz in occupied Poland are being tried for allowing Jewish women under their ostensible "protection" to die in a fire locked in a church that had been bombed during the evacuation of the camp. The incident was chronicled in a book written by one of the few survivors, who emigrated to the United States after the war; she is the main prosecution witness at the trial.
Michael is stunned to see that Hanna is one of the defendants, sending him on a roller coaster of complex emotions. He feels guilty for having loved a remorseless criminal and at the same time is mystified at Hanna's willingness to accept full responsibility for supervising the other guards despite evidence proving otherwise. She is accused of writing the account of the fire.
At first she denies this, then in panic admits it in order not to have to provide a sample of her handwriting. Michael, horrified, realizes then that Hanna has a secret that she refuses to reveal at any cost—that she is illiterate.
This explains many of Hanna's actions: During the trial, it transpires that she took in the weak, sickly women and had them read to her before they were sent to the gas chambers. Michael is uncertain if she wanted to make their last days bearable or if she sent them to their death so they would not reveal her secret.
She is convicted and sentenced to life in prison while the other women receive only minor sentences. After much deliberation, he chooses not to reveal her secret, which could have saved her from her life sentence, as their relationship was a forbidden one because he was a minor at the time. Part 3[ edit ] Years have passed, Michael is divorced and has a daughter from his brief marriage. He is trying to come to terms with his feelings for Hanna, and begins taping readings of books and sending them to her without any correspondence while she is in prison.
Hanna begins to teach herself to read, and then write in a childlike way, by borrowing the books from the prison library and following the tapes along in the text.
She writes to Michael, but he cannot bring himself to reply. After 18 years, Hanna is about to be released, so he agrees after hesitation to find her a place to stay and employment, visiting her in prison. On the day of her release inshe commits suicide and Michael is heartbroken.
Michael learns from the warden that she had been reading books by many prominent Holocaust survivors, such as Elie WieselPrimo LeviTadeusz Borowskiand histories of the camps. The warden, in her anger towards Michael for communicating with Hanna only by audio tapes, expresses Hanna's disappointment.
Hanna left him an assignment: While in the U. She can see his terrible conflict of emotions and he finally tells of his youthful relationship with Hanna.
The unspoken damage she left to the people around her hangs in the air. He reveals his short, cold marriage, and his distant relationship with his daughter. The woman understands, but nonetheless refuses to take the savings Hanna had asked Michael to convey to her, saying, "Using it for something to do with the Holocaust would really seem like an absolution to me, and that is something I neither wish nor care to grant.
Having had a caddy stolen from her when she was a child in the camp, the woman does take the old tea caddy in which Hanna had kept her money and mementos. Returning to Germany, and with a letter of thanks for the donation made in Hanna's name, Michael visits Hanna's grave for the first and only time. Style[ edit ] Schlink's tone is sparse; he writes with an "icy clarity that simultaneously reveals and conceals," as Ruth Franklin puts it,  a style exemplified by the bluntness of chapter openings at key turns in the plot, such as the first sentence of chapter seven: Lillian Kremer, and the short chapters and streamlined plot recall detective novels and increase the realism.
I wanted simultaneously to understand Hanna's crime and to condemn it. But it was too terrible for that. When I tried to understand it, I had the feeling I was failing to condemn it as it must be condemned. When I condemned it as it must be condemned, there was no room for understanding.
But even as I wanted to understand Hanna, failing to understand her meant betraying her all over again.
I could not resolve this. I wanted to pose myself both tasks—understanding and condemnation. But it was impossible to do both. Michael concludes that "the pain I went through because of my love for Hanna was, in a way, the fate of my generation, a German fate. The driver who picks him up is an older man who questions him closely about what he believes motivated those who carried out the killings, then offers an answer of his own: An executioner is not under orders.
The Reader: Love and the Banality of Evil - TIME
He's doing his work, he doesn't hate the people he executes, he's not taking revenge on them, he's not killing them because they're in his way or threatening or attacking them. They're a matter of such indifference to him that he can kill them as easily as not.
The man stops the car and asks him to leave. This is not an entirely good thing. Even if you have not read the book, you're probably familiar with the plot. A year-old lad named Michael Berg David Kross, giving a splendidly modulated performance of teen angst, sexuality and intellectual aspiration falls ill in the entrance of an apartment building in s Germany.
He is rescued by an attractive working-class woman named Hanna Kate Winslet in a performance that heartbreakingly combines passivity and anger who arranges his return home.
When he comes back to thank her for her aid, they embark upon a heated sexual relationship, which, in due course, she abruptly breaks off. Some years later, as a law student, he visits a courtroom where he finds her on trial as a war criminal, which shocks him beyond measure.
Still later and now played by Ralph FiennesMichael supplies her with the books she painfully learns to read during her imprisonment, though he otherwise keeps her at a wary distance. Eventually, she comes to a sad and not entirely predictable ending. See the top 10 movie performances ofincluding Winslet as Hanna. You do not need a Ph. I'm not certain that Schlink's novel or this film makes that connection explicit.