What was foreshadowed by Madame Schacter's nightmare in "Night"?
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Madame Schacter's screams and nightmares predict their fate--even before they reach Birkenau. She claims to see a fire, and this greatly disturbs those around her. They try to calm her, but mostly they do this to comfort themselves. Her screams don't help any of the tension they already feel. There's something ominous in her insane behavior. As they get closer to Birkenau, they see the flames and realize how true and terrifying her nightmare really was. Her visions and screams foreshadow them being burned at the camps.
When Elie and his family are on the train to Auschwitz, Madame Schacter is a woman whose mind has shattered from the brutality of what is happening to the Jews. Her husband had already been taken, and now she and her young son were on the train. She would talk crazy, as some of the people thought. While they are on the train, she starts to scream about the fires. She asks everyone if they can see the smoke and the fire. Of course, it is night and no one can see anything. They all say that she is crazy and try to ignore her.
The whole train ride there, Madame Schacter becomes more and more insistent on there being a fire. No one can see a fire and some of the men even start to hit her about the head. Elie wonders about her fractured mind at this point and talks about her young son, just hanging onto his mother.
When they finally arrive, the first thing Elie sees is the big smoke towers. He can smell the smoke and realizes it is the smell of humans. He realizes that Madame Schacter's warnings have gone unheard and that she was foreshadowing the horrific events that were taking place.
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