Wiesel uses numerous similes in this first chapter as he works to help the reader visualize the events as they unfold. Find and write down four similes.
In what way does the treatment of Mrs. Schächter serve as a parallel to the treatment of all of the people in the cattlecar?
What is your opinion of the treatment given to Mrs. Schächter? Would you have tried to step in and help her? Would you have wanted her silenced? Explain your answer.
In what way is Mrs. Schächter similar to Moishe the Beadle?
How does the German officer ensure that none of the 80 passengers in the cattlecar will try to escape? Is this an effective strategy?
Why didn’t the Jewish people from Sighet eat enough to satisfy their hunger? What does this show us about these people?
What eight words will change Wiesel’s life forever? For him, what was the meaning of those eight words beyond their literal meaning?
A fellow inmate quickly tells Elie Wiesel and his father to lie about their ages. How old is each and what new age do they give to Dr. Mengele, one of the Nazi leaders of Auschwitz? Why, do you suppose, they need to lie about their ages?
When the men begin to recite Kaddish, the prayer for the dead, why does Wiesel grow angry?
Wiesel tells us that the first night in the camp his life turned “into one long night seven times sealed.” Symbolically, the number seven is important in Judaism, as it represents divinity and completeness. What, do you suppose, the never-ending night might symbolically represent?
The dehumanization of Wiesel and his fellow Jews is on full display in this chapter, as they are treated more like livestock than men. Paraphrase three moments from this chapter where the prisoners are treated like animals. What might such treatment do to a person’s view of himself?
What particular horror was Béla Katz forced to endure? What message can you take from this moment?
In chapter 2, Wiesel used numerous similes to help the reader visualize the cattlecar the scene. In chapter 3, he limits this technique and, instead, provides one stark metaphor. Find and write down the metaphor. Then, explain why this metaphor is an especially effective choice, given the trials Wiesel and his people are facing.
There are several moments in this chapter that should strike the reader as particularly absurd. Find and describe one of those moments in this chapter.
Describe the lie that Wiesel tells to Stein, Reizel’s husband. Was lying the morally correct thing to do? Explain your answer.
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