Eliezer learns to survive under very harsh conditions. What are some of the coping skills Eliezer needs in order to survive?
I would have to say that the most important skill Eliezer learns during his horrific experience is how to "shut down" emotionally when he must:
"I glanced at my father. How he had changed! . . . I would have liked to speak to him but I did not know what to say . . . I too had become a completely different person. The student of the Talmud, the child that I was, had been consumed in the flames. There remained only a shape that looked like me. A dark flame had entered into my soul and devoured it."
Eliezer has already become alienated and numb at this early stage. Indeed, throughout the book, Wiesel talks of himself much as a witness or a spectator to the events unfolding around him. The final lines of the book are so powerful because they show the "victim" and the "spectator" meeting for the first time in a mirror:
"One day I was able to get up . . . I wanted to see myself in the mirror hanging on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto.
From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me.
The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me."