Life in the Ghetto

descirbe the life in the ghetto for the narrator and his family


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In Chapter One, Eliezer's father is suddenly summoned to a meeting of the Jewish council. Family and neighbors wait up past midnight to hear whatever news Eliezer's father has to tell them. When he returns from the meeting, he tells them that all the Jews are to be deported to an unknown destination and that they will only be allowed one bag per person. Eliezer and the neighbors disperse to pack and wake everyone else up. Someone from outside the ghetto knocks on the door, but disappears before the door can be opened. Later, Eliezer discovers that it was a family friend in the Hungarian police trying to warn them to escape.

Eliezer goes to wake up some of his father's friends, and then everyone cooks and packs in preparation to being deported. When the Hungarian police arrive early in the morning and begin forcing people outside into the streets, it is very hot and people are crying out for water. Eliezer and his sisters help the Jewish police to secretly bring water to thirsty children. When it is time for the people in the street to leave, there is joy because at this point people cannot imagine anything more horrible than sitting outside in the hot sun. Eliezer is scheduled to leave in the last transport, and he watches people in the first group march by. The next day, his family is moved from the large ghetto to the small one. Eliezer feels nothing as he looks at the house he grew up in, but his father begins to weep. At this point Eliezer begins to hate his oppressors, and he calls his hate the only thing that still connects him to them today.

In the little ghetto, which is unguarded, people try to remain upbeat. Eliezer's family moves into the house formerly occupied by his uncle's family, and everything is in disarray, as if people were suddenly and unexpectedly driven out. An old, non-Jewish servant named Martha comes to visit and tries to get the family to escape and hide in her village. Eliezer's father refuses to go and tells Eliezer he can go if he wants to. Eliezer refuses to leave his family, and they all remain in the ghetto.

It is night, and everyone goes to bed because there is nothing else to do but wait. When they wake at dawn, they are foolishly optimistic and compare the deportation to going on holiday. Eliezer says that the false optimism helped pass the time and notes that the uncertainty of everyone's future erased social distinctions between people. On Friday, the night before the scheduled deportation, the family eats dinner together for the last time. The next day, the Jews are ready to leave. They had agreed to organize their own deportation voluntarily, and they are all crowded into the synagogue for an entire day. No one can leave, and people are relieving themselves in corners. The following morning, everyone is herded into cattle wagons, which are sealed shut. The Gestapo puts one person in charge of each car and threatens to shoot him if anyone escapes. A whistle blows, and the train starts moving.