Identify the strongest instance in the book where Jewish people were dehumanized.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dehumanization in the narrative is an important element.  It helps to construct the moral and ethical lessons that emerge from it.  I think that Wiesel writes of so many instances that it is a nearly impossible task to find "the strongest instance."  Yet, for my bet, I would say that the treatment of Madame Schachter in the second section of the book would be one specific instant where I think that dehumanization is strongly evident.  I think that the dehumanizing of Madame Schachter, not validating her voice and then trying to keep her silent through physical force becomes one of the strongest examples of dehumanization.  The fact that the other passengers on the train could not deal with her screams and her vision is reflective of how the value of human life will gradually diminish as the narrative continues.  As Madame Schachter's son does little to stop the abuse of his mother, it is one of the first moments where a child betrays a parent, something that will foreshadow the arc of Eliezer's own development throughout the narrative.  I think that this becomes one of the strongest instances where dehumanization is present in the narrative, reflecting how one of the worst elements of the Holocaust was how so many replicated the behavior of the Nazis.


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