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How are Moshe the Beadle and Madame Schachter thematically similar to one another?

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bclasen9 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:19 AM via web

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How are Moshe the Beadle and Madame Schachter thematically similar to one another?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:24 AM (Answer #1)

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Thematically, both characters are linked to one another because they represent the dehumanization that served as the true horror of the Holocaust.  Wiesel constructs his narrative to speak to the element of dehumanization and the silencing of voices that becomes the sad legacy of the Holocaust.  In this frame of reference, the dehumanization techniques that the Nazis imposed on the victims are the same patterns that the victims imprint upon one another.  In framing the Holocaust in this manner, there is an ethical/ moral statement being made, enabling Wiesel's work to be seen in a philosophical light.

Moshe the Beadle and Madame Schachter are two characters that represent this.  Both are not silenced by the Nazis, but rather the Jewish people of Sighet.  Both of them are rejected by their own people.  Moshe is discarded when he comes back to Sighet to warn the Jewish people of what is coming.  Madame Schachter is silenced emotionally and physically when she keeps screaming of fire.  Both of them are seen as insane, refused to be acknowledged.  The label of insanity makes it easier to denigrate them and relegate them to the periphery.  However, Wiesel makes it clear that both of them were lucid in their thinking and that their rejection is a reflection of the abuse of power that both aggressors and sometimes victims ended up displaying in the Holocaust.

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