Uncertainty in Thinking and Feeling

Michael in The Reader

Michael’s uncertainties in feelings begin on a larger scale in the second part. At the end of the first part, Michael asks himself only whether he should go to Hanna, who suddenly appears at the public swimming pool. When Michael finds out in the second part that Hanna is illiterate and her fate depends on whether she wrote the report or not, Michael asks how to act: “I could go to the judge and tell him that Hanna was illiterate.” And on the other hand: “Wasn’t that what she had been fighting for?”

Likewise, he does not know whether he should understand or condemn Hanna’s crime.
In the end, he went to the judge, but he did not mention her illiteracy. Michael compares well-being with Hanna to the life with his wife or other female friends. This shows that he does not know exactly what he wants. When Hanna will be released from prison after 18 years and the director asks Michael for a visit, he shirks responsibility. Michael grants Hanna no new place in his life. On the other hand, he fulfills Hanna’s last wish after her death for her and travels to New York with the money from her bank account. In the end, he writes this story down to process all the things that happened. He visited her grave only once.

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