Can someone please help me with these questions from the novel Night, by Elie Wiesel?1. What was actually happening to the women? 2. According to the SS officer, what was the only way to avoid the...

Can someone please help me with these questions from the novel Night, by Elie Wiesel?

1. What was actually happening to the women?

2. According to the SS officer, what was the only way to avoid the furnaces?

 

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You have asked two questions here - you are only supposed to ask one! Still, we are never told directly what happens to the women. When the group of Jews arrives at the camp the women and men are separated with the words: "Men to the left! Women to the right!" The narrator comments:

Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight simple, short words. Yet that was the moment when I left my mother... I didn't know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever.

Bear in mind however what has just happened before this chapter whilst they are still on the train. The eerie foresight of Mrs. Schachter with her visions of flame and burning foreshadows the fate that awaits not only the women but also the men as well. Of course, after this event, the narrator sees sights that will haunt him for the rest of his life - children being burnt and corpses being disposed of. There is no doubt about the fate of the women.

Later, after the inmates have been shaved, showered and dressed, an SS Officer addresses the inmates. He is described as having "crime written all over his forehead and his gaze." He says to them:

"Here, you must work. If you don't, you will go straight to the chimney. To the crematorium. Work or crematorium - the choice is yours."

We are made to remember the words that greet prisoners at the gates of Auschwitz: Arbeit Macht Frei - work liberates. Work is the only thing that the prisoners can do to save themselves from death, and even then it is not enough.