The freedom of the children and the sins of the fathers

assignment is due&gt. "The freedom of the children and the sins of the fathers". (Essay on Bernhard Schlink’s "The Reader")
"If one knows what is good for another person who in turn is blind to it, then one must try to open his eyes. One has to leave him the last word, but one must talk to him, to him and not to someone else behind his back" – Michael’s Father
"And what if you can’t talk to him" – Michael. (143)
First off, I’d just to make a statement, in my own behalf. I believe that we live in a world which is intrinsically dual and therefore, it is very difficult to pin-point if a single piece of advice as either "good" or "bad". This is because all things are in flux, where the only constant in the chain of events which forever intertwines, and forever unfolds, is the causation law, of action-reaction.
Given this dual nature, some good advice may generate bad results, and vice-versa. The point being that one truly never knows the outcome of what one does until one has done it, and given this uncertainty, one should hold individual freedom in a high regard, and furthermore, one should be cautious in the advice that one dispenses, because good intentions don’t necessarily translate in good results.
I think that Michael’s father was thoroughly cautious in his advice. The essence of his message was of respect for free will, as well as of a warning at the entanglement of perspectives, ideas and half-truths that human interaction often consists of. A half truth is what happens not when one lies, but when one does not know the whole of the truth. And I believe that the nature of his advice implied that he knew more than his boisterous and passionate youth of a son.
It’s basically a matter of committed relativism. Maybe his father realized something that Michael could never have, being part of a younger generation, who never witnessed first-hand the horrors of Nazi Germany. Maybe his insight allowed him to fathom that maybe Hanna was seeking redemption trough punishment. Maybe that is why he never told him to do what supposedly was the right thing: Michael’s revelation of Hanna’s illiteracy could prevent her from being incarcerated of account of a report that she had supposedly written, tying her directly to a genocide which, by chance, happened to be caused by the allies! (of course, it was still it was the SS officials that permitted it, but it was the bombing that caused the event, and this is a point which illustrates clearly the case of duality and entanglement, on which this analysis means to be based). Maybe he felt that Hanna deserved to be incarcerated, or maybe that she should simply be entitled to make up her own mind, because only she knew of herself, only she knew what she had done. One can never know, one can only wonder.
Something that it is important for us to keep in mind is that he never told Michael explicitly not to intervene, but rather he left him to his own counsel. In this respect, I think his attitude was both admirable, and illustrative of a remarkable insight into human affairs, which is makes sense given the fact that he, as a character, happened to be a philosopher.
Michael walked on a rope for a while there, but it is implied that he eventually realized that he shouldn’t go against Hanna’s will, as he didn’t manage to assemble the necessary courage to tell the truth to the judge. In a way, he respected her, and therefore made his utmost manifestation of love. Quite tragic, the outcome, but one surely never knows what the Fates might sew. One can only Hope, and thus is life.
Works cited:
Schlink, Bernhard. The Reader. Trans. Carol Brown Janeway. NY: Vintage, 1997. Der Vorleser. Zurich: Diogenes, 1995.