Motif - Animals (and/or People treated as animals)I have to identify the different examples of animals or people being treated that way throughout the story. Other than everything being taken from...

Motif - Animals (and/or People treated as animals)

I have to identify the different examples of animals or people being treated that way throughout the story. Other than everything being taken from them and the small amount of food given, can anyone else come up with anything?

Expert Answers
clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There was also scene in which Elie was on a cattle car and watched a son murder his father for a crust of bread without realizing that it was his father. The son gives pause to what he's just done for a crust of bread and in that moment two more upon seeing the crust of bread murdered the son to get it. Elie observes that they have been reduced to the most basic animal instincts there are and he is sad for Jews and prisoners everywhere. Hunger superseded all else, even family! One other way in which the Jews were treated like animals is that they were completely stripped of their names and only referred to by number. Elie was known for almost two years of his life only as A-7713. This "unpersonalized" the Jews to the soldiers making it easier for them to torture and murder. They simply were not viewed as humans by their captors and executioners.

podunc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that dehumanization is an important theme in the novel, and that is why I think the scene where Juliek plays Beethoven on his violin is one of the most important in the book. The scene takes place during the death march when the prisoners stay in a crowded barracks in Gleiwitz. From underneath a pile of bodies, Eliezer hears the violin and says "it was as though Juliek's soul was the bow. He was playing his life. The whole of his life was gliding on the strings--his lost hopes, his charred past, his extinguished future." Juliek dies after that concert, but his heroism is that he chooses not to die as an animal. His choice to play music was subversive, even radical, under the circumstances.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, podunc is correct in focussing on the dehumanisation of the Jews and how the way they are treated under the Nazi regime turns them into nothing more than animals. What is disturbing above all is how many Jews, oppressed themselves, turn on their fellow Jews and oppress them in their desperate situations. You might also like to focus on sex in the novel and how, when faced with these terrible conditions, youths engage in "embraces" on the cattle carts and others indulge in homosexuality in the camps. They become less than human by engaging with their baser instincts.

cmcqueeney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The guards constantly refer to the Jews as dogs or swine, and they obviously treat them as such.  When the Jews are transported to the concentration camp by train, people would throw pieces of bread into the cars when it was stopped at the station to watch the Jews fight over the food.  There is also the situation where a kettle of soup is left out cooking in the midst of the concentration camp.  One man, led by his hunger, tries to sneak over to the soup to eat it.  The book compares him to a lamb surrounded by wolves as he is shot just as he reaches the pot.