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The Reader Themes & Symbolism

This Study Guide consists of approximately 75 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Reader.
This section contains 812 words
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Significant Topics

Guilt and Collective Guilt

The novel is suffused with guilt. The entire nation of Germany reels with the collective guilt of the Holocaust. Hanna is guilty of war crimes. Michael is guilty of betrayal. Michael's father is guilty of being a poor father. The driver to Schirmeck/Struthof-Natzweiler is guilty of performing executions. Even some of the Holocaust survivors feel guilty for surviving. Nazi sympathizes and collaborators are found in all areas of Michael's life. As a student, he has friends whose parents were executioners, informants and soldiers. As an adult, he feels guilty for being a divorced father, for betraying Hanna in thought, for not having a better relationship with his father. Michael's very employment as a legal historian focuses on guilt - he seeks answers from the past about what was wrong and what was right.

There are very few characters in the novel from Hanna's...

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This section contains 812 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Reader Study Guide
Copyrights
The Reader from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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