Wiesel uses Madam Schachter to demonstrate yet another warning the Jews received early on and yet chose to ignore. As Madame Schachter screams repeatedly in the crowded boxcar, no one seems to be able to subdue her. Several finally resort to hitting her in order to quiet her screams. When the boxcar arrives in Auschwitz, the deportees report Madame Schachter to the guards.
She is an important character for several reasons. Not only does she represent the Jews' continued disbelief early on in the book, but she also demonstrates the theme of self-preservation v. family commitment. Her son, who has accompanied her on the boxcar, does not step in when his mother is being beaten. He chooses to protect himself rather than defend his own mother. She also serves as an eerie prophetess of the literal flames that Elie witnesses a short time later which consume his faith.