The narrator, Elie, uses imagery to present clear visual images of the horrors of Auschwitz upon his arrival there. When he first arrives, Elie believes that he still has some control over his life:
We were brought some soup, one bowl of thick soup for each of us. I was terribly hungry, yet I refused to touch it. I was still the spoiled child of long ago.
The imagery here reminds readers that the horrors of the Holocaust victimized very typical children. Here is a child who is disgusted with an offering of "thick soup" as a meal. All parents can empathize with the plight of picky eaters, and Elie is thus captured in his refusal as a young boy who could be anyone's child.
The process of receiving required tattoos is also a moment of powerful imagery:
In the afternoon, they made us line up. Three prisoners brought a table and some medical instruments. We were told to roll up our left sleeves and file past the table. The three "veteran" prisoners, needles in hand, tattooed numbers on our left arms. I became A-7713.
This action effectively erases Elie's identity, as well as the identities of the other camp victims. The process is done with a sense of sterile detachment, and there is no emotion associated with this process. In fact, other prisoners are recruited for the work as well.
After remaining at Auschwitz for a few weeks, Elie and some other prisoners are transferred to Buna. They walk there, and the imagery of life outside the camp is presented as a sharp contrast to Elie's own bleak existence inside camp life:
On the way, we saw some young German girls. The guards began to tease them. The girls giggled. They allowed themselves to be kissed and tickled, bursting with laughter. They all were laughing, joking, and passing love notes to one another.
In captivity, there are no kisses and no tickling. The lives of these German girls reflect freedom and contentment. From a distance, they are able to watch a parade of camp inmates file by, and the sight doesn't even surprise them. This speaks to the horrific sense of normalcy which the Germans have grown accustomed to. In every way, this scene should have elicited anger and outrage, yet the emotions of the German crowd are shockingly peaceful and even joyful.