How does the topic Of ceremOny play a role in the book? Why are ceremonies important to a culture and what does it mean in the corrupted instances of this particular experience? Is the ceremony about praying or about the hanging ceremony?
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The ceremony is about the prayers themselves. There were rules during the hangings that everyone adhered to; no one watching shed a tear, and the victims did not weep.
Pipel's hanging deeply affected everyone; he was just a little boy. Everyone had gotten used to the hangings and the beatings, they seemed to be able to move past them. But the young boy was different, and as everyone stood and watched him move between life and death as he struggled against the rope they cried and asked where God was. But Elie knew, and he knew that prayers mattered. While the men around him questioned, "For God's sake, where is God?" Elie heard a voice inside of answer, "Where he is? This is where- hanging here from this gallows " (65).
So it isn't about the experience, but it is about the prayer. The act of prayer indicates continuing faith in the face of adversity. Ceremonies are important to a culture, even when they have to be played out in hiding. Elie sees the hanging of the child as the murder of God, but that's a reaction, he holds onto his faith. The Germans want his God to disappear, and with every life they take, they take a piece of God. They don't know that God lives within all of their victims and that he cannot be destroyed. One prisoner can uphold the faith and carry the flock.
I recall from the novel that Elie ignores his father's warning about the Cabala (yes the same stuff that Madonna followed), and he studies the ancient mysticism anyway. There are the "thirteen divine qualities" which can only be revealed through intense prayer.