What does Elie tell his distant relative about his family after arriving at Buna, and why?

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Shortly after arriving at Buna, Elie is introduced to one of his relatives named Stein, who inquires about his family. Stein tells Elie that he received news that a transport had arrived from his region and immediately came to search for him. Stein then asks Elie if he had heard anything about his wife, Reizel, and his two small boys from Antwerp. Elie mentions that he had not heard anything about Stein's family but proceeds to tell his relative that Reizel and his boys are alive and well. Elie lies to Stein about Reizel and his two boys because he realizes the importance of hope. Elie understands that hope in a better future and reuniting with one's family is the most significant motivating factor to continue living and survive the horrific ordeal. Elie believes that lying to Stein about his family being alive will give him the motivation to persevere and survive the Holocaust. Stein continues to regularly visit Elie and his father and shares his food rations with them until he learns the real news regarding the tragic fate of his family.

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When Elie and his father arrive at their new camp, they are greeted by Stein from Antwerp, a distant relative. Stein asks Elie if he has any news about Stein's family. In reality, Elie has no information about Stein's family; however, he lies and tells Stein that his family is alive and doing well. Why does he do this? At this point, Elie has realized the role of hope in survival. He knows that if he gives Stein hope, he will increase Stein's chances of making it through the concentration camp. Elie has little materially to offer, but this is something he can give.

Unfortunately, the "gift" is short-lived. When a transport arrives from Antwerp soon after, Stein learns the actual fate of his family and never visits Elie again.

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