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The Reader: Guilt

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seline yap

on 16 January 2015

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Transcript of The Reader: Guilt

Scenario 1

In your own words what is guilt?
shame is something you feel is wrong with you
guilt is something you feel when you have done something wrong
acknowledging guilt is different than feeling guilty
In the novel The Reader, Hanna and Michael both suffer immensely from the choices they make and the guilt they experience as a result. While legally Hanna is guilty of murder, morally she is guilty of having a lack of compassion, which can be seen in her relationship with Michael, her attitude as a guard and her lack of action during the fire in the church. On the other hand, while Michael is tormented by guilt, he is not guilty, and is in fact a victim of Hanna’s lack of humanity.

Lack of Compassion:
Hanna and Michael's relationship
A woman knowingly gets into a car under the influence
While driving home, she gets into an accident
The driver of the car she hit dies

Legally, this woman can be charged with second degree murder, but morally, is she really guilty of this offense?

If a person has no intent to kill, are they guilty of murder? Or, in this case, is this woman guilty of being selfish and making bad decisions?

To what extent do you think illiteracy impacts a person’s life?

Hanna can be at times both emotionally and physically abusive.

No matter how hard Michael tries, Hanna continues to treat him terribly.

“She was holding the narrow leather belt that she wore around her dress; she took a step backwards and hit me across the face with it. My lip split and I tasted blood. It didn’t hurt. I was horrorstruck. She swung again.” (Schlink, 55)

Lack of Compassion:
Actions as a Guard
“Yes, but the new ones came, and the old ones had to make room for the new ones.” (Schlink, 111)

Sending the women away was necessary, and just a part of her job.
A person with compassion wouldn’t be so unaffected by the responsibility of picking people to be executed.
Proves she didn't take any pleasure in these deaths.

Concealing her illiteracy forces her to withhold the emotional aspect of their [Hanna and Michael's] relationship.

“I never found out what Hanna did when she wasn’t working and we weren’t together. When I asked, she turned away my questions.” (Schlink, 77)

Hanna’s illiteracy also affects her employment:
Turns down the offer of being trained to be a bus driver.

The Reader: Guilt
By Victoria & Seline
Lack of Compassion:
Fire in the Church
"That they would...no, but how could we have restored order? There would have been chaos, and we had no way to handle that. And if they tried to escape…” (Schlink, 127)

Makes no mention of how she
having to watch the prisoners burn alive.
A person with compassion would feel horrible for having to make such a decision
Proves that she had no intent to kill

Now Think...
Lack of Compassion
Finally, all of these examples help prove that Hanna is guilty of a lack of compassion throughout the novel.

While legally she can be charged for murder, morally her crime is entirely different.

Scenario 2

When you get on a plane you trust that it will take you from one destination to another safely. But as we see in the news things don’t always go as planned.

As you board the plane you notice a small altercation between the pilot and one of the flight attendants. It had looked like the Pilot was distressed about something and the flight attendant was trying to convince him that he was not in the right mind to fly the plane. The pilot ignores her suggestion and the flight attendant decides to let it go and does not tell anyone. Three hours into the flight the plane starts to experience some turbulence followed by the seat belt sign immediately flashing on. You suddenly feel a continuous drop of pressure. The plane has now crashed. As you are taken off the plane you vaguely see filled body bags everywhere, and realize you are one of the few survivors. You wake up in the hospital with surprisingly minor injuries, and all of your memories that will serve as a reminder for the rest of your life. A day later it was determined that the crash was due to a human error caused by the pilot crashing the plane.

Who do you think is more guilty you or the pilot and the flight attendant?

Would you feel guilty for not telling anyone when it could have mattered?

Would you be able to live your life the same or even fly on planes again?

This is an example of how Michael has become a victim of Hanna's decisions.
This is an examples of how Hanna's lack of compassion has had a negative lasting impact on Micheal's life

Impact on Michael's life
assumes Michael has left/abandoned her forever
gets really angry that he has left without verbally telling her
hides the note and pretends she had never seen or found it
further impacts his future relationships
Emotional & Physical Abuse
These are examples of how Michael suffers from emotional and physical abuse caused by Hanna's actions


Other Sources



This is an example of how Michael has become a victim of Hanna's decisions.

“She was holding the narrow leather belt that she wore around her dress; she took a step backwards and hit me across the face with it. My lip split and I tasted blood. It didn’t hurt. I was horrorstruck. She swung again.” (Schlink, 55)
(Schlink, 48)

Michael was very young when Hanna and him started their relationship
uses him for her own selfish needs
manipulates situations so that she always has the upper hand and that she is always right
Emotional & Physical Abuse
(Schlink, 173) - 2 quotes
(Schlink, 174) - 2 quotes

Lack of Compassion
Full transcript