In Eliezer's eyes, the hanging of the child symbolizes a sad angel.  Examine this image.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This moment from the narrative is one of the most intense.  For Eliezer, the hanging of a child represents a new level of cruelty, even for the Nazis.  Eliezer cannot seem to turn from this image.  The child, small and tiny, has a neck that does not fit the noose made for him.  As he hangs, he struggles between life and death for 30 minutes.  Eliezer states that as he walked past him like all the inmates were made to do, he could still see the child as alive.  It was in this point in which the image of the child symbolizes a sad angel.  The innocent face of the child, with the noose choking the life out of him, is where the image gains much in way of power.

On a thematic level, the child symbolizing the sad angel helps to affirm Eliezer's approach to God.  As the narrative progresses, Eliezer's relationship with God occupies vital importance.  From the time in which Eliezer was a devoutly spiritual human being to his time in the camps where what he saw made him question the presence and judgment of God, Eliezer's characterization features a trajectory in how God is seen.  As the child struggles for life, someone asks, "Where is God?"  Eliezer, looking at the child, responds that "God is here- hanging on this gallows."  In this moment, the sad angelic face of the child becomes a symbol for the dying of faith, the extermination of God.  In the very next chapter, Eliezer will become more pronounced on where he stands regarding the issue of God.  The symbol of the hanging child helps to illuminate this position.

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