Analysis Of Bernhard Schlink 's ' I Didn 't Know You 're Here ! ' Essay

Analysis Of Bernhard Schlink 's ' I Didn 't Know You 're Here ! ' Essay

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“She put her arms around me, one hand on my chest… ‘That’s why you’re here!’ ‘I...’ I didn’t know what to say. Not yes, but not no either. I couldn’t see much of her, we were standing too close. But I was overwhelmed by the presence of her naked body.” (Schlink 24)

The section of text that this quote is from disgusted and greatly shocked me, not because the two characters were intimate, but because the main character Michael was fifteen and the woman he was intimate with, Hanna, was in her early thirties. The author Bernhard Schlink is able to elicit this response from the reader because the scene is so aberrant and unexpected.

“I had woken up early, dressed quietly, and crept out of the room. I wanted to bring up breakfast and also see if I could find a flower shop open where I could get a rose for Hanna. I had left a note on the night table… When I returned, she was standing in the room, trembling with rage and white-faced… ‘Don’t touch me.’ She was holding the narrow leather belt that she wore around her dress; she took a step backwards and hit me across the face with it. My lip split and I tasted blood.” (Schlink 54-55)

This text horrified me. Hanna had previously been verbally abusive of Michael, but this time she hit him. I am not sure what horrified me more, the fact that she abused him, or the fact that he came crawling back every time, apologizing for thing he had not done so that he could be with her again. The author uses the weight of the concept of physical abuse to evoke feelings of outrage and horror from the reader

“When Sophie saw me looking at her, she turned and smiled at me… We were translating the Odyssey… When it was my turn, it took me only a few seconds to find my place and translate. After the teach...


... middle of paper ...


...el’s self-inflicted numbness to make the reader feel pity towards him and disgust at Hanna.

“Next morning, Hanna was dead. She had hanged herself at daybreak.” (Schlink 203)

Hanna’s suicide left me shocked and confused. She had been in prision for eighteen years and she hanged herself the night before her release. She could not face the outside world after so many years cloistered from it. Her suicide made me think that her affair with Michael had left her scarred too. Michael could no longer bear getting close to others. Perhaps Hanna was the same way. Perhaps she did not want to face a world with him in it, just as he had to shut her out of his world in order to function. The author announces Hanna’s suicide without preamble and so abruptly that the reader is left to question her motives and, hopefully, to reach a conclusion about her that the author intended.


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