Friday, May 30, 2008

Final Post: Pgs 98-115

The prisoners are pressed tightly into cars and are made to throw out the dead bodies. Elie’s father is almost thrown from the car because he was thought to be dead. Some of the people in the towns they pass are throwing bread into the car. Elie talks about an experience after the Holocaust, in which when a tourist in Aden throws coins to some of the boys. Two of the poor boys try to kill each other for the coins, and this is why they are throwing the bread. One night, someone tries to strangle Elie while he is asleep. Elie's father calls on a friend named Meir Katz to rescue Elie. When thee get to Buchenwald, only 12 out of the 100 men are still alive.

The journey to Buchenwald has fatally weakened Elie's father. On arrival, he sits in the snow and refuses to move. He seems at last to have given in to death. Eliezer tries to convince him to move, but he will not or cannot, asking only to be allowed to rest. When an air raid alert drives everyone into the barracks, Eliezer leaves his father and falls deeply asleep. In the morning, he begins to search for his father, but halfheartedly. Part of him thinks that he will be better off if he abandons his father and conserves his strength. Almost accidentally, however, he finds his father, who is very sick and unable to move. Eliezer brings him soup and coffee. Again, however, Eliezer feels deep guilt, because part of him would rather keep the food for himself, to increase his own chance of survival.

Elie tries to find help for his father, who is slowly dying. The prisoners whose beds are around his father's, steal his food and beat him. Later, Elie is told by the man in charge, that his father is dying, and that he should concentrate on himself surviving. His father cries for water, and is beat by an SS patrol officer. On January 29, Elie wakes up to find out that his father has been taken to the crematory. Elie remains in Buchenwald, and on April 5, the Nazis decide to kill all the Jews left in the camp. As the evacuation begins, a siren goes off that sends everybody inside. On April 11, the American army arrives at Buchenwald. Now that ther are free, the prisoners think of feeding themselves. Elie comes down with food poisoning and spends weeks in the hospital, and very sick.

At the end of the novel, He sees the effects his unfortunate journey have taken on him. He says, "One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Chapter 6

Throughout the blizzard, the prisoners are evacuated from Buna. They are made to keep running until they reach their destination. The SS makes them increase their pace and shots those who stop running. A boy running next to Elie can not run any further. His name is Zalman. He stops running and is trampled under the feet of thousands of men to his death. Elie is exhausted and weakened by his injured foot, but forces himself to run along with the other prisoners for his father's sake.

After running all of this time, the prisoners find themselves in Gleiwitz. Rabbi Eliahou ends up where Eliezer and his father are. He is looking for his son. Throughout the time of the concentration camps, father and son have supported each other. Elie tells Rabbi Eliahou he has not seen the son, but when actually during the run, her saw the son abandon his father, and running ahead when it seemed Rabbi Eliahou would not survive. In Gleiwitz, Elie finds an old friend, Juliek, a boy from Warsaw who plays the violin. They speak a little and then try to sleep. Once he finds some breathing room, and, Elie discovers that his father is near. Elie falls asleep to the sound of Juliek's violin. However, when he wakes up he finds Juliek dead, and his violin smashed.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Chapter 5

The prisoners in Buna celebrate Rosh Hashanah by praying and praising God, but Elie's loss for faith grows. He does not see why he should bless God while there is so much suffering. Elie makes fun of the idea that Jews are God’s chosen people. This denial of faith leaves him alone among all the others in Buna. He eventually finds his father. He decides to eat on Yom Kippur, when Jews traditionally fast. After the Jewish New Year, another selection is announced. Elie and his father are seperated. He worries that his father will not pass the selection, and after it turns out that his father is one of those tagged as too weak to work. This means that he will be executed. He brings Elie his knife and spoon, which is his only inheritance. Elie is then forced to leave, and never see his father again.

When Elie returns from work he finds out that a second selection has taken place among those condemned as too weak to work, and his father makes it through the selection. However, Abika Drumer does not survive the selection. Others begin to lose their faith. It becomes winter and the prisoners begin to freeze in the cold. Elie's foot swells up, and he has an operation. While he's in the hospital, there is a rumor of the approaching Russian army. The Germans decide to evacuate the camp before the Russians can arrive. Elie and his father choose to be evacuated with the others. It turned out that those who remained did not evacuate were freed by the Russians a few days later. In the middle of a snowstorm, they begin evacuating Buna.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Chapter 4

A Kapo chooses to serve in a unit of prisoners, and it luckily, his father is in the same unit. Elie meets Juliek, who is a Jewish violinist. His brothers are Yosi and Tibi. Elie plans to move to Palestine after the war along with the two brothers. Abika Drumer predicts that their release from the camps is coming very soon. Not long after Elie and his father arrive in Buna, he is goes to the dentist to have his gold crown removed. He tries to do whatever he can to prevent having the crown removed. Later, the dentist is sentenced to hanging for trading gold teeth illegally. The Kapo in charge of Eliezer and the other workers in his group, Idek, has random fits of violence. One day, he beats Eliezer, and afterwards a girl working next to Eliezer offers him comfort.

Then the narrator goes ahead many years to when, after the Holocaust, he runs into the same girl in Paris. He claims to have recognized her, and she tells him her story. The story then goes back to Elie’s time at Buna. His father becomes a victim to one of Idek’s outbursts. Elie tells how much the concentration camp has changed him. Instead of being angry at Idek, he becomes angry at his father for not avoiding Idek. The prison supervisor, Franek, notices Elie's gold crown, and wants it. Elie refuses to give up the tooth. Because of this, Franek beats Elie's father until he gives up the gold crown. After this, Idek and Franek, are transferred to another camp. Before this happens, Elie accidentally sees Idek having sex in the barracks. Idek whips Elie until he goes unconscious.

During an attack on Buna, some of the camp's soup is out in the open. Many prisoners watch a man risk his life by crawling to the soup. He reaches the soup, and gets up to eat. As he does so, he is shot. The Nazis publicly hang another man who tried to steal something during the air raid also. Elie tells the tale of another hanging. The prisoners break into tears while watching a child strangle. They wonder how God could be present in a world with things such as this occuring. “Where is He?” Eliezer asks, and then answers, “He is hanging here on this gallows.” Throughout the book, Elie's faith has been gradually decreasing. After seeing the hanging of the child, he reaches the low point of his faith.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Chapter 3

This section starts at Birkenau and the first “selections” take place. Elie and his father stay together, but get separated from his sister and mother. They meet a prisoner, who tells them to lie about their age. Another prisoner asks them why they let the Nazis bring them to Auschwitz. He tells them that it is to be killed and burned. Dr. Mengele determines who to select or to be killed immediately. Elie takes the advice and lies about his age, saying he is eighteen. He also says that he is a farmer, and is with his father. They are made to go to the left of Dr. Mengele. Nobody knows whether the "left" is the prison or where they are cremated.

The prisoners in Birkenau are scared when they see a pit where babies are being burned, and one for adults. Elie finds this unbelieveable, and tells his father that “humanity would never tolerate” such a massacre. The prisoners are crying and somebody recites the Jewish prayer for the dead, the "Kaddish". When Elie and his father are close to the edge of the pit, they are directed to barracks. In the barracks, the Jews are stripped, shaved, disinfected, showered, and made to wear uniforms. They are told that they have two options, either to work for the Nazis or to be cremated. When Elie's father asks for the bathroom, he is beaten by the "Kapo", or head prisoner, beats him.

Shortly, they make a march from Birkenau to Auschwitz. There, they have prison numbers tattooed on their arms. Elie and his father meet a relative from Antwerp, named Stein. Elie lies and tells him that he has heard about Stein’s family, and that they are alive. However, he hears the truth when a transport from Antwerp shows up. Finally, they are escorted on a four hour walk from Auschwitz to Buna, the work camp in which they will be working for months.

In this section, Eliezer begins losing even more faith in God. In Auschwitz when he first sees the furnace pits, where the Nazis are burning babies, he begins to doubt God. He says “Why should I bless His name?” “What had I to thank Him for?” However, Eliezer’s loss of faith contrasts with the faith of prisoners such as Abika Drumer.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chapter 2

In this section, the Jews continure to be tormented by agonizing conditions. They are packed into small cars, where there is hardly any air to breathe, it is extremely hot, and everyone is hungry and thirsty. After a few days of traveling in these brutal conditions, the train stops at the Czechoslovakian border. A German officer accompanied by a Hungarian lietenant takes official charge of the train, and threatens to shoot anyone who will not give away his or her valuables. The doors to the car are nailed shut, so no one can escape.

Mrs. Schachter is a middle-aged woman who is on the train with her ten-year- old son. On the third night, she begins to scream that she sees a fire, but apparently there is not a fire. She is tied up and gagged so that she cannot scream. Her child watches this next to her and cries. When she breaks out of her bonds and continues to scream about the furnace that is waiting ahead, some of the boys on the train beat her to keep her quiet. The prisoners on the train reach Auschwitz station. They are told by some locals that they are at a labor camp where they will be treated well and kept together as families. This is a relief to them, and the prisoners believe that everything will be alright. That night, Madame Schachter again wakes everyone with her screaming, and she is beaten again to keep her quiet. There is a wretched stench in the air, which is the smell of burning flesh. They arrive at the concentration camp in Birkenau.

This chapter begins to show us the harsh treatment of the Jews as victims. Madame Schachter is an example of this. She is beat so that she will remain quiet. By the Nazis treating the Jews this way, they cause the Jews themselves to act as if they were less human. Some of them begin to beat Madame Schachter in order to keep her quiet, and the others support the beating. Madame Schachter, who is supposedly crazy, sees the future, but the other Jews, who are apparently not crazy, do not see this coming.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Chapter 1

The name of the narrator is Eliezer, who is a twelve-year-old boy living in the Transylvanian town of Sighet. He is the only son in an Orthodox Jewish family. He has two older sisters, Hilda and Bea, and a younger sister named Tzipora. Eliezer studies the Talmud, which is the Jewish oral law. He also studies the Jewish texts of the Cabbala. Eliezer finds a challenging teacher of Jewish mysticism in Moshe the Beadle. Soon, the Hungarians expel all foreign Jews, even Moshe. Despite their anger, the Jews of Sighet soon forget about this anti-Semitic act.

After many months, Moshe escapes and later returns and tells how the deportation trains were handed over to the Gestapo, which is the German secret police, at the Polish border. He says this is where the Jews were forced to dig graves for themselves and were also killed by the Gestapo. The town sees him crazy and refuses to believe his story.

Later in 1944, the Hungarian government falls into the hands of the Fascists, and the next day the German armies occupy Hungary. As the community leaders are arrested, Jewish valuables are confiscated, and all Jews are forced to wear yellow stars. Eventually, the Jews are confined to small ghettos, and crowded together behind barbed-wire fences. Eliezer’s family is among the last forced to leave Sighet.

This first chapter expresses Eliezer’s problem with his faith. At the start of the story, he is a devoted Jew from a devoted community. He studies Jewish tradition loyally and believes faithfully in God. As the Jews are deported, they express their belief that God will save them from the Nazis. “Oh God, Lord of the Universe, take pity upon us….” However, his experience in the concentration camps eventually leads to his loss of faith, because he decides that he cannot believe in a God who would allow this kind of suffering.