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The Reader Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 56 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Reader.
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The Reader addresses the legacy of guilt that the Holocaust has left behind, and Hanna's question to the judge at her trial, "What would you have done?" is the question that every reader must ask him or herself. The extent to which Hanna is guilty is a complex question and one that Michael attempts to unravel when he demands: But could Hanna's shame at being illiterate be sufficient reason for her behavior at the trial or in the camp? To accept exposure as a criminal for fear of being exposed as an illiterate? To commit crimes to avoid the same thing?

Readers may ask themselves these same questions. If Hanna's motive was fear of exposure—why opt for the horrible exposure as a criminal over the harmless exposure as an illiterate? Or did she believe she could escape exposure altogether? Was she simply stupid? And was she vain...

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This section contains 530 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Reader Study Guide
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