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Why is Madame Schachter significant in the novel Night?

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jjoohhnn12 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 24, 2011 at 6:51 PM via web

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Why is Madame Schachter significant in the novel Night?

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

Posted May 24, 2011 at 7:13 PM (Answer #1)

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I would say that Madame Schachter is an important character because she reflects the cruelty that the victims of the Holocaust displayed toward one another.  In his speech, "The Perils of Indifference," Wiesel talks about how the most repugnant aspect of the Holocaust was that it bred indifference and cruelty between human beings.  The dehumanization that the Nazis displayed towards those who were victims of the Holocaust was also present in how those very victims treated one another.  Like Moshe the Beadle, Madame Schachter's presence in the narrative is a quick one, but it is one that lingers.  When she starts screaming on the train, Wiesel displays the callous and brutal attitudes of the other passengers towards her.  No one takes care of her, or looks out for her.  Rather, the passengers are quite easily driven to silence her physically and mentally.  Even her own son is silent in the measures taken to get her to be quiet.  It is reflective of the sadness in the Holocaust that her visions of fire and burning turn out to be true.  In Madame Schachter, the ultimate lesson learned is that the silencing of any voice by any force is an awful condition.  It is one that was replicated all too often during the Holocaust and one that was silenced by other victims.  In this assessment, one recognizes the Holocaust as a human tragedy, one where ethical treatment of one another is of vital importance to its study.  It is here where Madame Schachter's character occupies the greatest of importance.

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