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This review is from: The Reader (Paperback)
It could well be read as a novel postulating thought-provoking conundrums about guilt.Firstly, there is Hanna's failure to open the Church where several Jewish women prisoners were lodged. They were being moved by Nazi Soldiers even as the Soviet army was advancing into Germany.The Church had caught fire as a result of allied bombing. Hanna was but one of several guards in charge of the prisoners. The guards had been ordered to see that none of the prisoners escaped and there was always the possibility that the soldiers who had run away on the commencement of the bombardment would return at any time.The other guards pleaded that they acted under compulsion or had to attend the soldiers who had been injured in the bombardment. But this defence was in contradiction of a report of the event.The other guards, pleading ignorance as to why such a report had been sent, charged Hanna as the leader of the guards and author of the report.Hanna could have got over this situation by admitting that she was illiterate: she did not: on the other hand she admitted to its authorship.By that she got life sentence whereas the other guards got lenient jail terms.But does Hanna's illiteracy exonerate her of the failure to open the Church doors?So why has so much prominence been given to this fact? But the question remains,as Hanna asks the rial judge, what would he have done in the circumstances?
Secondly, Michael the former adolescent lover of Hanna, consults his father on Hanna's silence about her illiteracy and the father says that the adult has the right and freedom to decide for himself what is good for him and it is not open to another to decide what is good for him. Does this purely philosophical approach without taking into consideration the consequences of silence on this issue, make him guilty of giving precedence to abstract philosophy over humanity?
Michael accepts this advice and does not broach the matter although he meets the trial judge. Is he not guilty?
Is Michael, having loved Hanna,retroactively guilty? These questions can be answered either way. We are left with conundrums.
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Initial post: 28 Sep 2014 21:10:43 BDT
Jeanette Levin says:
I thought the readers were being asked to write a review, not to tell the story! I do wish people would not do this, it does so spoil the story for others.
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