Compare and contrast Moishe the Beadle and Madame Schächter from Night.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Night by Eli Wiesel is the story of the Holocaust. It offers a detailed look at the atrocities suffered by the Jewish people during this time. It's an important book because it gives us the opportunity to experience how horrible it was for ourselves. By knowing the past, we're able...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Sign Up for 48 Hours Free Access

Night by Eli Wiesel is the story of the Holocaust. It offers a detailed look at the atrocities suffered by the Jewish people during this time. It's an important book because it gives us the opportunity to experience how horrible it was for ourselves. By knowing the past, we're able to take steps to avoid another Holocaust in the future.

Your question asks for an analysis of Moishe the Beadle and Madame Schächter. I'll start with Madame Schächter. She's a woman in her fifties who is transported to the concentration camp with Elie. Madame Schächter has already been separated from her family, and she is distraught during the train ride. She hallucinates and begins experiencing visions of massive flames and the pain that awaits for the Jews at the camp. The other prisoners on the train don't believe her. They actually beat up and silence her to get her to be quiet.

Moishe the Beadle is a poor Jew who is one of the first prisoners transported to the concentration camp. However, he manages to escape and returns to his home, Sighet. Once there, he warns the other citizens of the town about the impending Nazi invasion and how horrible it will be for all of them. However, the Jews in town ignore and ostracize him. Moishe is left with no way to save the people he cares about.

On the surface, these characters look very different. Sure they are both Jews from Sighet. But Moishe the Beadle is poor, a man, and a teacher. Miss Schächter is none of these things. Still, there are similarities between the two characters. They each have a foresight of the atrocities that the Nazis are going to commit against the Jewish people. They each try to warn their neighbors, but neither of them is taken seriously.

These characters and the way that the other Jewish folks react to them remind us of how utterly insane the Holocaust was. Madame Schächter and Moishe the Beadle weren't taken seriously, because how could anyone believe that what they were saying was really happening? They're describing a horrific event that had never happened to these people before. It must have sounded crazy to be warned of the Holocaust before experiencing it for yourself. I think that's what Elie Wiesel intends to show us with these characters and their stories.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Moishe the Beadle is a poor foreign Jew who is forced to endure the horrific Nazi atrocities in the Galician forest but manages to survive and return to Sighet. When Moishe the Beadle tries to warn the Jews about their fate, the citizens completely ignore him and call him crazy. Moishe the Beadle is ostracized and laments about the impending Nazi invasion while the Jewish citizens continue to enjoy their carefree lives.

In contrast, Madame Schächter is a woman in her fifties whose husband and sons are deported. Elie mentions that Mrs. Schächter's separation from her family shatters her, leaving her with a tenuous grasp on reality. During the transports, Elie rides in the same cattle car as Mrs. Schächter and she continually hallucinates. Mrs. Schächter yells that she sees massive flames, and the tired prisoners end up beating and silencing her. They consider Mrs. Schächter crazy and do not believe anything she is saying.

While both Moishe the Beadle and Mrs. Schächter have completely different backgrounds and experience different situations, they both have unforeseen knowledge regarding the impending danger and horrors of the Holocaust. Both Moishe the Beadle and Mrs. Schächter are ostracized by their neighbors and labeled as crazy. They both have also experienced traumatic events in their lives, which have dramatically altered their perception and personalities.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Night, written by Elie Wiesel, has many interesting characters. Two of these such characters are Moshe the Beadle and Madame Schachter.

Moshe the Beadle is Eliezer's teacher. He is a Jewish man who is quite poor. Many believe Moshe to be a lunatic because he is deported before many other Jews, escapes, and returns home to warn others of what is to come.

Madame Schachter is a Jewish woman who rides on the train with Eliezer as they travel to a concentration camp. She cries out every night about a furnace that she claims to see in the distance. Many people on the train think she is insane, and at one point they even beat her to get her to be quiet.

These two characters are similar in that they are both Jewish and from Sighet. They are both mistreated by other Jews as well as many Nazi soldiers. This mistreatment shows the amount of dehumanization that occurred during the Holocaust. Both of these characters also predict what is coming: Moshe returns to his town to tell people what he saw when he was deported, while Madame Schachter tells of the furnaces she sees, however, neither person is taken seriously.

These characters also have a few differences. Moshe is a teacher who does not have a permanent home or any family. Madame Schachter is a middle-aged woman who is married and who has young children.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

On the surface, Moishe and Madame Schacter are very different people.  Madame Schacter is a middle-aged woman, married with sons.  She is a resident of Sighet, and one assumes (as we find that many of the people in Sighet know her) that she is integrated into the Jewish community there.  Moishe the Beadle, on the other hand, lives a more transient existence within Sighet, with no known family to speak of.  He is most likely homeless.

Where the two are similar is in their prophecy of things to come, and in the harsh treatment they receive for sharing their predictions.  After Moishe escapes from deportation, he returns to Sighet to tell of the horrible things he has seen.  The Jews of Sighet, unwilling to hear his words, shun him.  Madame Schacter, on the other hand, rides in Elie's cattle car en route to Auschwitz.  On the way, she has visions of fire (what later proves to be the crematorium) in her mind and shouts of her visions.  Again, the Jews do not want to hear her words.  Her visions are unsettling to the Jews on the train.  They go so far as to gag her at one point in order to have her cease her screaming.  Thus, while the two characters are quite different, in their predictions and subsequent treatment, there are similarities.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team