What were the only things in which Elie took interest in chapter 4 of Night?

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In Chapter 4, Elie is in a camp called Buna. He says that "all that mattered to me was my daily bowl of soup, my crust of stale bread" (page 52). Even after Elie witnesses a young prisoner being hanged and is forced to walk by the dead body and...

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In Chapter 4, Elie is in a camp called Buna. He says that "all that mattered to me was my daily bowl of soup, my crust of stale bread" (page 52). Even after Elie witnesses a young prisoner being hanged and is forced to walk by the dead body and look the hanging man in the face, Elie can only think of food. He says, "I remember that on that evening, the soup tasted better than ever" (page 63). Elie is disinterested in the fate of his father, who he watches getting beaten. The concentration camp has made him so heartless that he witnesses the beating of his father and only feels anger against his father, rather than against the Kapo. Elie also befriends two boys, Yossi and Tibi, and they sing Zionist songs from their Zionist youth organization. Elie, like them, is interested in going to Palestine, and promises to get aboard a ship to Haifa if he survives past the time when the camps are liberated. 

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The narrator tells us that he "took little interest in anything except my daily plate of soup and my crust of stale bread" (63).  This is consistent with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which tells us that we are not able to care about anything unless our basic needs for food and shelter are taken care of.  The narrator has shelter, so he is reduced to his most basic need of food. He is no longer really a person at all, and describes himself as "a body," or perhaps "a starved stomach (63), meaning that he cannot care about anything except the food he needs to survive. 

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Food.  It was always about food.  It was a tool of control used by the Germans to dehumanize these prisoners.  How many times do we see Elie and others fight and claw and even kill for bread.  It turns sons against fathers and fellow man against fellow man.  The value of the bread is greater than the value of a soul. 

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I think you can relate Maslow's "Heirarchy of needs" to this novel. You can google it to find out more about it, but centrally what we see in this novel is life stripped of all hopes and aspirations and reduced to mere animal instincts for food, shelter and safety. We see the author going through this process himself as he is forced to focus on only the bare necessities to ensure his survival. In the face of this tremendous battle, all other concerns such as love, relations and friendship are lost as each Jew seeks to survive.

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Survival.  It as this point in the work where we begin to see the life aspect to Eliezer take on the meaning of survival.  One critical element of this chapter and those that follow display the reality that the Nazi treatment of so many robbed them of "living" life through dehumanization.  In the process, many might have been living, but they had stopped living a life worth living when captured by the Nazis.  This chapter in the book marks the point where life became about survival, losing any element of being "human in the process.

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The only things that Elie took interest in were his bread and soup.  This is stated in the book at the very end of the section where Elie describes his encounter with the camp dentist and explains how he managed to keep from having his gold crown extracted.  He writes, "Bread, soup--these were my whole life.  I was a body.  Perhaps less than that even: a starved stomach.  The stomach alone was aware of the passage of time" (Wiesel 50).  He is trying to explain why he could not feel remorse or sorrow for the fact that the dentist was sent to prison to be hanged, why he actually felt pleased with the turn of events.  It is another way to show the loss of humanity and faith he reached while in the hands of the Nazis.

 

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