How does Madame Schachter impact the other people on the train?

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

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Madame Schachter's ultimate effect on her son and the other people on the train is to begin the process of dehumanization that will become so much a part of the narrative.  Madame Schachter's cries move the others to dehumanize her.  They tie her up and beat her in order to be quiet.  Wiesel describes that her son does not do anything to stop this once it starts, almost glad that his mother is finally being silenced.  Like Moshe the Beadle before, Wiesel uses Madame Schachter to show how the most intense horror of the Holocaust was how individuals the loss of humanity was not merely perpetrated by the Nazis.  Rather, the victims of the Holocaust adopted this themselves and dehumanized one another.  Madame Schachter's cries ultimately reflect the lack of humanity that is evident during the time period.  Her cries compel others to silence her.  There is little in way of comfort and understanding, sensitivity to her plight and showing the redemption in compassion.  Rather, it is forceful silence through violence that ends up being the legacy Madame Schachter leaves with the passengers, reflecting how the moral decay in the Holocaust is one of its worst legacies.


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