One of the most disturbing scenes in this novel comes towards the end, when Eli and the other Jews are being transported away from Auschwitz because of the success of the Allies. Eli remembers how the Jews are in a wagon and watching Germans throw in crusts of bread to see the Jews fight each other for the food. An old man finds a crust, but is soon attacked by his son:
He collapsed. But his fist was still clutching a small crust. He wanted to raise it to his mouth. But the other threw himself on him. The old man mumbled something, groaned, and died. Nobody cared. His son searched him, took the crust of bread, and began to devour it.
Atrocities and inhumanity is shown to break through even the strongest of relationships, as here a father hides bread from his own son and a son willingly kills his father for a scrap of bread. Being treated like animals has made the Jews act like animals. Good men have been turned into brutes by the treatment they have received.