Baylor College Medical School

11. Night by Elie Wiesel

11. What had happened to Mrs. Schachter to make her behave as she did?

What did she continually shout about to the Jews?

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A fifty-year-old woman named Madamae Schaechter is on the train with her ten-year-old son. She had been separated from her husband and two older sons earlier and is now beginning to lose her mind. She starts screaming hysterically about a fire and a furnace that she claims to see in the distance. At first, she terrifies the people in her wagon, and they rush to see what she is pointing at out the window. After hours of her screaming, the people on the train can take no more, and they tie her up, gag her, and begin beating her to make her stop screaming about the fire. She breaks free from her restraints and periodically screams throughout the night, until everyone else on the train feels like they are about to go mad too. Finally, the wagons arrive at Auschwitz, which they are told is a labor camp where conditions are good. People's spirits lift, although Madame Schaechter continues to scream. As the train pulls into the camp, everyone suddenly sees the flames and chimney that Madame Schaechter had prophesied. When her vision finally materializes, Madame Schaechter becomes silent. Everyone is forced to get out of the train, amidst the smell of burning flesh. They are at Birkenau, the reception center for Auschwitz.