A Literary Analysis of The Reader By Bernhard Schlink.

Michael is fascinated with Hanna, a hardworking older woman. “Schlink’s novel…deals with [a young German boy seeking] to come to terms with that war and [its] appalling atrocities…[Questions include] the extent to which…fiction [has perception difficulties with] national identity, and implicitly about how [much] a literary text can address issues as acutely as a sociological or historical work.” The appalling atrocities of World War II haunt Michael even as he is living in New York in the United States, years and years later, working as a lawyer. Flashbacks of Michael Berg’s childhood are intermingled with the present, with Hanna sitting in a prison cell waiting for Michael’s letters and cassette tapes—in which he would read stories to her, much like Michael used to read Hanna adventures like The Odyssey and Anton Chekhov’s The Lady with the Dog. These encounters are what keep Michael coming back again and again to see Hanna—not only for sexual exploits but also because he truly admires Hanna’s tough character and irreverent personality, which can sometimes be biting and cruel, being simultaneously loving. Michael, however, in his haste to love Hanna, does not realize the seriousness of the relationship into which he has entered. Years later, at a criminal trial for war crimes in Nazi Germany, Michael learns that his childhood lover was not merely just anyone—but possibly a criminal as well, which shall be denoted in the segment to follow.

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