Jews are the primary Nazi target for hate crimes and extermination, simply because of their race. As a reader, you can’t help but get a sense for the arbitrariness of race; the distinctions between the Aryans and the Jews blur, for example, when we learn that Eliezer’s little sister has blond hair, the Aryan ideal. Throughout their time in the concentration camps, the Jews try to keep their religious and cultural traditions alive, but it becomes increasingly difficult in the face of death and suffering.
Questions About Race
- Being Jewish is the natural status and identity of most of the characters in the book. Given that, Eliezer makes few references to it specifically. What role does "Jewishness" actually play in this book?
- Are there any contrasts in the book between "Jewish" and "non-Jewish"? If so, what are they? Why are they made?
Chew on This
Even though Judaism and Jewish identity are important factors in Eliezer’s life and in his deportation to concentration camps, he makes very few references to his Jewish cultural heritage outside of religion, suggesting that Eliezer does not distinguish between religious and cultural Jewish heritage.