Throughout the book, the confinement of the Jewish people increases in a step-by-step process, which strips away their identity, humanity, and dignity. First, the Jews of Sighet are confined to their homes, then to ghettos, to cattle cars for transport, and eventually imprisoned behind the barbed wire and iron gates of concentration camps. With the increasing confinement, the Jews lose their possessions, their family members, their individuality, and many lose their lives. The hope of liberation from the concentration camps, either by the Allies or by God, is what keeps many of the imprisoned Jews going. Although there are only a few references to it, the resistance movement is alive within the camps. In the last chapter, the resistance movement rises up in protest and battles the Germans until American tanks arrive to liberate the concentration camp.
Although Eliezer is liberated from the concentration camps, he remains mentally imprisoned by continually associating his youth with death.