Structure

A crack in the asphalt. (c) AndrewMark

The Three Parts of The Reader

As you may know, Bernhard Schlink’s, The Reader, is divided into three parts with different chapters. If you take a closer look at this division, you can see that it is a division by time and the personal development of Michael’s character. On the other hand, the separation of these parts has to do with the status of Hanna and Michael’s relationship.

 

Michael’s behavior in the first part is pubertal: “I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her neck and shoulders, her breasts, which the slip veiled rather than concealed, her hips which stretched the slip tight as she propped her foot on her knee and then set it on the chair, her leg, pale and naked, then shimmering in the silky stocking.”

They have also a strong relationship in this part of the novel, you can see this in Michael’s pubertal behavior, too.
When Hanna disappears in the second part (“After Hanna left the city […]”), Michael’s character develops to an adult personality. They have nearly no real relationship in this part.

In the third part, Hanna and Michael get their relationship back when Hanna is in jail. But this is a different type of relationship, you cannot compare it the relationship they had before in the first part. In this part, Michael is more like an external observer, their relationship is not going really deep.

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