Describe The Scene With The Soup Cauldrons

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dymatsuoka's profile pic

dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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One Sunday morning in the camp at Buna, the air-raid sirens begin to sound - the camp is being bombed.  The SS take refuge in the shelters, while the prisoners assemble in the barracks.  The camp is deserted, and near the kitchen two cauldrons of soup have been left with no one guarding them.  It is a "supreme temptation", and "hundreds of eyes (look) at them, sparkling with desire", but no one dares take advantage of the situation; "terror (is) stronger than hunger".  Suddenly a man creeps out of Block 37, "crawling like a worm in the direction of the cauldrons.  As the hordes of prisoners watch, he reaches the first cauldron, and, stretched out, tries to raise himself to its edge.  He is paralyzed, either "by weakness or fear", until finally, using the last of his strength, he lifts himself to the edge, and appears for a moment "to be looking at himself, seeking his ghostlike reflection in the soup".  Then, "for no apparent reason", he lets out a terrible cry, thrusts his head towards the steaming soup, falls back and writhes on the ground, then moves no more.

The bombs begin to fall on Buna, and the raid lasts for over an hour.  When it is over, everyone begins to slowly emerge.  The body of the man "with the soup-stained face" lies in the middle of the camp, next to the cauldrons.  He is the only victim (Chapter 4).

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gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Eliezer describes a Sunday when the sirens in the camp go off around 10:00 a.m. and the Blockälteste gather the prisoners into the blocks. The S.S. guards take cover in the shelters from an impending bombing while the prisoners find themselves essentially unsupervised in the streets. Next to the kitchen, there are two hot cauldrons of soup left unattended. All of the starving prisoners immediately begin to stare at the cauldrons of soup with a look of desire. However, the prisoners are too afraid to take any of the soup because they know they will be shot if they are caught. Eliezer then says that he saw a door open slightly and a prisoner began crawling towards the cauldrons like a snake. Everybody watched the man with envy as he crawled closer and closer to the cauldrons of soup. When the man finally reached the cauldrons, he began pulling himself up towards the rim and was shot before he could even taste the soup. 

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