At the end of Chapter 1, describe the conditions in the cattle cars in Night.

3 Answers

ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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When Elie and the other Jews were taken out of the Ghetto, they were transferred to "cattle cars."  The Hungarian police crammed 80 people into each car.  There was a person assigned to each car to make sure no one escaped.  There were bars on the windows and the people were "sealed" inside with some bread and a few buckets of water.  (pg.22)

We read that there was not enough room for the people to lie down, and they had to take turns to sit down.  The air was limited and there was no way to get comfortable.

sciftw's profile pic

sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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At the end of chapter 1, the Jews are put into cattle cars that are being pulled by a train.  Readers are not told many details about the conditions in the car in chapter 1.  We are told that the police placed 80 people to a car and allowed a small amount of food and water as well.  

The Hungarian police made us climb into the cars, eighty persons in each one. They handed us some bread, a few pails of water.

Readers are also told that the cars are locked and the window bars are double checked for tightness.  Finally, readers are told that a person in the car has been placed “in charge.”  If anybody manages to escape off the train, that person will be shot.  

Chapter 2 is more descriptive with details regarding the train trip.  80 people in a train car is very tight.  We are told that the people were packed so tightly that sitting down was not an option.  The trip goes on for days.  The narrator tells readers that the heat became intolerable as well as the accompanying thirst.  Most of the passengers did not eat either, because they assumed things might get worse and the food would be more valuable then.

There was still some food left. But we never ate enough to satisfy our hunger. Our principle was to economize, to save for tomorrow. Tomorrow could be worse yet.

After two days, the jewelry of everybody on board is confiscated.  Anybody caught trying to hide jewelry would be shot on the spot. After that, the doors are shut again and then nailed shut.  Conditions continue to decline, and the heat combined with the lack of food and water causes a passenger to start hallucinating and screaming about fire.  Her cries become so annoying to everybody on board that she is beaten, bound, and gagged.  

Once again, the young men bound and gagged her. When they actually struck her, people shouted their approval:

"Keep her quiet! Make that madwoman shut up. She's not the only one here… "

She received several blows to the head, blows that could have been lethal.

All in all, the conditions for those three days are atrocious.  Not even cattle are treated as poorly as those people were treated.  

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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At the end of Chapter 1, the Jews living in Sighet were rounded into tightly packed cattle cars by the violent Hungarian police. Eighty people stood next to each other in each car, and there was barely any room to maneuver. The prisoners were given some bread and a pail of water for the journey. Elie mentions that lying down was not an option, and there was hardly enough air in the tightly packed cattle cars to breath. After traveling for two straight days, the prisoners' thirst became intolerable. Elie also mentions that the prisoners never ate to satisfy their hunger because they understood that they had to save enough food for the next day. The Jews had to suffer the tightly packed quarters inside the cattle cars with little food and water on their journey out of their home country. 

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