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In the opening of the novel, Moché is generally well liked, works in the Hasidic synagogue, and is a very pious and humble individual. Then he is deported by Hungarian police. Several months later, Moché returns, having escaped from a concentration camp in Poland. He tries to warn the townspeople of the atrocities that he has seen, but no one believes him. Everyone thinks he is trying to win sympathy or has simply gone insane.