Explore the effectiveness of including the story of Madame Schachter in Chapter 2.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Wiesel's work is so great because two of the most important characters are brought out in the first two chapters.  The first would be Moshe the Beadle in Chapter 1, while Madame Schachter's effectiveness is present in the second chapter.  Her story proves to be effective for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it helps to bring out one of Wiesel's main themes of how the Holocaust is a product of when individuals lose empathy towards one another.  This cuts across all lines, impacting those who are perpetrators and victims of the Holocaust.  At the same time, I think that the story helps to foreshadow the true brutality of abandonment that was evident in the Holocaust. When Madame Schachter's son watches his mother being beaten and does not do anything about it, there is a emptiness replicated when other children betray their parents in the narrative.  Eliezer will be guilty of this himself, later on in the narrative.  Finally, I think that the idea of silencing someone with vision helps to bring out the painful element intrinsic to the Holocaust.  While she is screaming, Madame Schachter is right about what she sees, something that Eliezer's father brings out in the third chapter.  She is correct and right about what awaits them all.  Yet, she is silenced, treated as nothing more than a burden, inappropriate for one who holds so much in way of prophetic vision.  It is in this where I think that her story becomes so effective in the narrative.