In Chapter 2 of Night, what do some of the passengers do to quiet Madame Schachter?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eliezer Wiesel recalls a woman named Madame Schächter, who had been separated from her husband and two oldest sons on the first transport and was emotionally devastated. Elie mentions that during the first journey on the train, Mrs. Schächter continually moans and cries aloud. On the third night, Mrs. Schächter begins yelling, "Fire! I see a fire! I see a fire!" (Wiesel, 49). After realizing that Mrs. Schächter is hallucinating, many of the passengers attempt to reason with her to calm her down. Unfortunately, Mrs. Schächter cannot settle herself, and the passengers stop trying to comfort her. Eventually, the passengers bind and gag Mrs. Schächter in front of her young son, who begins to cry. However, Mrs. Schächter is able to loosen her bonds and begins screaming about seeing a fire again. This time, the passengers physically assault the woman by hitting her over the head. After receiving numerous blows to the head, Mrs. Schächter stops screaming until the train arrives at Auschwitz, where her hallucinations become a reality. 

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.