The Reader

889 words 4 pages
Memory is a powerful concept. Often when an individual undergoes a traumatic situation, the ramifications of these actions seep into an individualfs psyche unknowingly. In effect this passes through memory and becomes sub-consciously buried within a personfs behavioural patterns generally. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink explores the concept of a young mans subconscious desire for a woman whom he gcanft remember to forgeth (1Memento) as she is so deeply inlaid within his soul.

Critically acclaimed as gA formally beautiful, disturbing, and finally morally devastating novel. From the first pagec [it] ensnares both heart and mindh ( Los Angeles Times), the novel tells the story of a young boy, 15, Michael Berg, through his own
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Hanna is imbedded into his psyche and therefore rendering him completely powerless to her influential force that emerges within him, subconsciously.

Another issue developed within the novel is the idea of the affect of the war with the German society. The people of Germany cannot manage to forget the horrific actions that occurred during WWII, as with Michaels link to Hanna, because the events were so tragic that they are imprinted on the subconscious minds of every member of society. They try to forget the past yet their intentions are thwarted by the power of their memories and the affect they have had on them mentally and sometimes physically.

An example of this in the novel is Hannafs festering guilt about her cruel and unethical acts towards the Jewish women and children that were in her care. The climax of the novel sees Hannafs desperation to rid herself from these memories as she commits suicide. Before her death, Hanna speaks to Michael about the lingering spirits of the dead that haunt her soul, gThey came every night, whether I wanted them or noth (p 197). Hanna accepts her sins and seeks forgiveness from the spirits of those whom she acted so unjustly towards yet they do not grant her, her wish and do not leave her alone. They come every night, just as the memories subconsciously reside within her mind, never to leave. Hanna cannot remember to forget the horrific memories of her experiences during the


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