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The Reader. Part 2 – Chapters 12, 13, 14 and 15. Chapter 12 Summary.

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The reader

The Reader

Part 2 – Chapters 12, 13, 14 and 15

Chapter 12 summary
Chapter 12 Summary

  • Michael’s indecision about appealing to the judge takes him to his father for a philosophical opinion. His father decides using philosophical parables that he should converse with Hanna. Despite this council Michael is undecided and confused.

Chapter 13 summary
Chapter 13 Summary

  • During the court hearing the witnesses fly to Israel. Michael is distracted. He dreams of Hanna. He reflects on the little information there was about the concentration camps.

Chapter 14 summary
Chapter 14 Summary

  • In this chapter, Michael takes a journey to a concentration camp in Germany, and while on the way, discusses the theme of morality and killing

Chapter 15 summary
Chapter 15 Summary

  • Michael takes a trip around the concentration camp in an attempt to rationalise the nature and reality of the crimes committed there. Michael’s inner unrest is also displayed in this chapter.


  • “…the windows did not open the room beyond, but framed and hung the world in it like a picture” p 140

  • Returning to his father’s study brings back memories of his childhood. It is a source of pain for Michael.

Setting chapter 14 15
Setting Chapter 14-15

  • Chapter 14 takes place while Michael is on the roads to a concentration camp. This symbolises the fact that he is on a journey, both figuratively and literally.

  • In chapter 15 the setting is described as “the trees powdered white and the ground white too”, the symbol of white is used here and relates to how the concentration camp has been “cleaned” or purified of its former nature

Setting continued
Setting continued

  • The setting is juxtaposed with the “double barbed wire fence”, reminding the reader that the memories of the place still remain.


  • Hannah’s character is juxtaposed:

  • “…hard-faced, in a black uniform, with a riding whip.” p 145

  • “Hannah listening to me, talking to me, laughing at me, loving me.” p 146

  • Hannah was both a lover and parental figure to Michael

Character 14 15
Character 14-15

  • Michael displays his intellect in his ability to debate moral issues with the driver of the truck.

  • Michael is also portrayed as being highly reflective in chapter 15, when he contemplates how one should feel after visiting the concentration camp

  • The guilt that Michael feels peaks in this chapter as he says “failing to understand her meant betraying her all over again”.

The reader

  • These chapters fall into the rising action of the narrative arc of the novel.


  • “…the windows did not open the room to the world beyond, but framed and hung the world in it like a picture.”

  • Windows are a motif. The picturesque world that Schlink describes is symbolic of the ignorance that existed during WWII.

The reader

  • “I knew that my fantasized images were poor clichés.” p 164

  • “…photographs and the testimony of survivors flashed on the mind again and again, until they froze into clichés.” p 147

  • Michael’s struggles to identify and understand who Hanna really was, which leads him to “poor clichés”. This parallels the way in which the Holocaust is portrayed and represented now.