Bernhard Schlink's "The Reader".

Essay by danman38High School, 12th gradeA+, May 2003

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Life is a lesson built up of the experiences one encounters and the challenges they face. One begins as a newborn and from the moment of reasonable understanding their life is what they make it to be. In order for one to grow one must experience life as the days flow forward, so not to place themselves in another's shoes and miss an experience because of it. There is a reason why people organize others in "age groups": so that they will grow together through the examples each one sets. Expecting to grow properly and learn what one must when put in an unfamiliar generation, is as if trying to teach a person to walk through the example of a whale-both are mammals but are impossible to compare. This is evident in Bernhard Schlink's The Reader, where fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is involved in a secretive, intense, and passionate relationship with thirty-six-year-old Hanna Schmitz. Hanna is leading the relationship so much so that when they fight, regardless of who is right or wrong, Michael always gives in and apologizes in fear of loosing her. He never stands up for himself. As time progresses, Michael takes it upon himself to be present and involve himself in Hanna's trail. Once Michael figures out the secret Hanna is hiding he is thrown into complete confusion on whether to help Hanna and how to execute this. After the trials, towards the end of the novel, Michael is still unsure of how to define his relationship with Hanna. The passionate, secretive relationship that Hanna imposes on Michael stunts his development, which leads to the confusion that dominates his life.

The audience is exposed, in The Reader, to Michael's lack of skill in defending himself against Hanna, due to the intensity of the relationship shared...