pages 17-22 in the book Night by Elie Wiesel
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In this section, Eliezer and the other prisoners are fully exposed to the horrible inhumanity of the Nazis. Due to the brutal methods of the Nazis, they are transformed from respected individuals into obedient, animal-like automatons. How does this transformation take place? When the prisoners first arrive at the camp, some of the young men want to rebel: "We've got to do something. We can't let ourselves be killed. We can't go like beasts to the slaughter. We've got to revolt." Despite these early feelings of rebellion, the prisoners rapidly become docile and fearful, and they follow the rules set out by the Nazi authorities. Why do they obey people who are so obviously intent on destroying them?
The answer to that question is very complex. First, the Nazis make it very clear to their prisoners that they hold the power of life and death over them. When the prisoners arrive, they are made to think that they are all going to die in the fiery ditch, and they are periodically beaten and abused by the SS guards. Then their individual identities are completely erased when they are shaved, doused in petrol, and given identical, ill-fitting clothing. They are denied any sort of personality whatsoever, and the only way to deal with the constant abuse is to shut down all human emotions: "Our senses were blunted; everything was blurred as in a fog. It was no longer possible to grasp anything. The instincts of self-preservation, of self-defense, of pride, had deserted us.Within a few seconds, we had ceased to be men." Treated as animals, the prisoners know that the Nazis will have no qualms at destroying them. For this reason, it makes logical sense to obey the Nazis' commands.