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The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is set in postwar Germany and tells the story of fifteen-year-old Michael Berg and his affair with a woman named Hanna who was twice his age After some time she disappears When Michael next sees Hanna he is a young law student and she is on trial for her work in the Auschwitz concentration camp Their feelings of guilt and shame lead to Hannas tragic death near the end of the story Bernhard Schlink is trying to portray these two emotions in his book as things that can destroy ones life and possibly the life of those around us Examples of them can be found throughout the whole book One of the first major examples is the shame that many adults including Michaels father felt because of their tolerance and acceptance of the Nazi regime The second is Michaels feelings of guilt for betraying Hanna by not acknowledging her at the pool The third example is the guilt that Michael feels for comparing his wife to Hanna The fourth is Michaels shame for having been in love with Hanna The fifth and possibly the most tragic example in the book is Hannas own shame of being illiterate During the time when the book was set many parents lived in shame for tolerating the actions of the Nazi regime Michael Berg explains how young people reacted to their parents as more and more was being discovered about Nazi atrocities by saying We all condemned our parents to shame even if the only charge we could bring was that after 1945 they had tolerated the perpetrators in their mist 92 This shame prevented Michaels father from ever creating a true bond with his children Michaels father was undemonstrative and could neither share his feelings with us children not could he deal with the feeling we had for him 139 Even though he was a philosophy professor who dealt with moral issues on
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