How do the prisoners manage to go on, as weak as they are, to run for miles in the deep snow? (Night)

Night Chapter 6

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In this section Eliezer and the other remaining prisoners are pushed to the very limits of human capacity, both physically and mentally. Forced to run at least forty-two miles, Eliezer's mind feels like it is becoming disconnected from his body, and he continues to run mechanically without really realizing that he is doing so: "I was dragging with me this skeletal body which weighed so much. If only I had got rid of it! In spite of my efforts not to think about it, I could feel myself as two entities‹my body and me. I hated it." Eliezer is barely conscious, yet keeps moving; though exhausted and malnourished, he and the other prisoners miraculously summon the superhuman energy to run for miles and miles. In this passage the Nazis succeed in completely destroying the bodily integrity and capacity for rational thought of their prisoners. The captives become simply bodies that move automatically and without thought; they are like animals who run by instinct alone to prevent themselves from being killed. The prisoners are motivated by blind terror alone; nothing else explains why they are able to keep running.

The prisoners lose their humanity and individuality as they run and instead merge into one collective mass of fleeing bodies. Though their running indicates how faceless and anonymous the prisoners have become, it also gives them a collective strength: "We were masters of nature, masters of the world. We had forgotten everything‹death, fatigue, our natural needs. Stronger than cold or hunger, stronger than the shots and the desire to die, condemned and wandering, mere numbers, we were the only men on earth." Though individually weak and dying, collectively the prisoners are strong enough to withstand this new torture that the Nazis are inflicting on them. Simply because there are so many of them moving forward blindly, together they are able to overcome the cold and fatigue.