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Section 3 Summary

At Birkenau, the men and women are separated. In hindsight, Elie realizes that this was the last time he saw his mother and sister alive. One of the prisoners warns him to say he is eighteen, though he is in fact fourteen, and his father is to say he is forty instead of fifty. Another man comes to them and asks what they are doing here. At Auschwitz they are going to be thrown into the furnaces, he tells them. Some of the new prisoners contemplate attacking the guards, and an old man tells everyone that they must never lose faith.

When Elie approaches the notorious Dr. Mengele, “the Angel of Death,” he is asked his age. Elie replies that he is eighteen. When asked his occupation, he contemplates saying he is a student but instead says he is a farmer. He is motioned to go to the left, as is his father. A prisoner tells them that the left path leads to the crematory. Elie passes the ditch where bodies are being burned, and he sees small children and babies burning. He realizes that his reality is now a nightmare. His father regrets that Elie did not tell his true age, as many boys were sent along with their mothers. Elie’s father believes that they are all going to the crematory. Elie states that he would rather throw...

(The entire section is 466 words.)