The French girl's kindness to Eliezer can be said to strengthen his faith in people. I doubt it has any effect on his religious faith, which, from the time of his arrival in the camps, has existed in a kind of limbo of neither belief nor disbelief. The episode with...
The French girl's kindness to Eliezer can be said to strengthen his faith in people. I doubt it has any effect on his religious faith, which, from the time of his arrival in the camps, has existed in a kind of limbo of neither belief nor disbelief. The episode with the French girl is one in which she compromises herself by helping him after he's been beaten up by the guard Idek.
The girl has been "passing" for "Aryan." Part of her disguise has been to avoid revealing that she can speak German. This is because many European Jews spoke Yiddish, which is actually a dialect of German, so it was normal for many to speak standard German as well. It's possible that although this young lady was from France, her parents or other relatives might have migrated from the German-speaking countries or from central or eastern Europe. In those regions, the educated Jewish population normally spoke German regardless of the particular country in which they lived. It was a part of Europe where borders were constantly changing, and where German speakers had been the political elite in territories east of Germany. Eliezer's family speaks German, though they lived in Hungary. This is because of their Jewish background and the fact that before WWI, Hungary had been part of the empire of Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary was dominated by German speakers, although a dual monarchy between ethnic German Austrians and Hungarians had been established in 1867.
I've included these details because, as Wiesel himself implies, the girl is endangering herself not only by helping him in the camp, but by speaking German to him. Years after the war, when he sees her in Paris on the métro, he re-bonds with her. She senses his question to her will be whether or not she is Jewish. That she is Jewish confirms to him what he must have sensed already in the camp. It also shows the extent of her selflessness in having helped him. The message is thus one that conflicts with the more pessimistic one that emerges from some personal accounts about the Holocaust. Unlike in many cases, people are not inevitably reduced by the death-camp into an everyman (or woman) in their state of mind and behavior. Sometimes it seems that personal survival becomes the only thing of significance. Wiesel shows that human goodness emerges even in the worst and most brutal situations.