by Elie Wiesel
Night Identity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
In the afternoon, they made us line up. Three prisoners brought a table and some medical instruments. We were told to roll up our left sleeves and file past the table. The three "veteran" prisoners, needles in hand, tattooed numbers on our left arms. I became A-7713. From then on, I had no other name. (3.143)
Eliezer’s loses the humanness of having a name and becomes a number.
The medical checkup took place outside, early in the morning, before three doctors seated on a bench.
The first hardly examined me. He just asked:
"Are you in good health?"
Who would have dared to admit the opposite?
On the other hand, the dentist seemed more conscientious: he asked me to open my mouth wide. In fact, he was not looking for decay, but for gold teeth. Those who had gold in their mouths were listed by their number. I did have a gold crown.
The first three days went by quickly. On the fourth day, as we stood in front of our tent, the Kapos appeared. Each one began to choose the men he liked:
"You … you … you and you …" They pointed their fingers, the way one might choose cattle, or merchandise. (4.15-21)
Medical examinations are a joke. Although Germans considered Jewish bodies important for labor, it is not important for their bodies to be kept healthy. The identity and value of the Jewish prisoners is reduced to the value that can be extracted from their bodies – whether that value was labor or gold.