Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Fire and flames are used to symbolize death. In Chapter Two, as the train full of Jews from Sighet approaches Auschwitz, Mrs. Schächter has a vision of fire and flames. She screeches about the fire through the long night and then again the following night. When they at last arrive at Auschwitz, the inhabitants of the car understand what she was talking about: the crematoria, where bodies of prisoners are burned. Fire is an ever-present threat of death; the view and the smell of the crematoria permeate all aspects of life in the concentration camps, reminding the prisoners of their closeness to death.