In a few seconds, we had ceased to be men. Had the situation not been so tragic, we might have laughed. We looked pretty strange! Meir Katz, a colossus, wore a child’s pants, and Stern, a skinny little fellow, was floundering in a huge jacket. We immediately started to switch.
I glanced over at my father. How changed he looked! His eyes were veiled. I wanted to tell him something, but I didn’t know what.
The night had passed completely. The morning star shone in the sky. I too had become a different person. The student of Talmud, the child I was, had been consumed by the flames. All that was left was a shape that resembled me. My soul had been invaded – and devoured – by a black flame. (3.95-97)
Within one night the concentration camp experience has completely altered Eliezer’s identity, as well as the identities of his fellow Jews. Shaven and dressed in the same prison garb, the men have been stripped of the individuality they formerly had. In addition, Eliezer’s identity has further changed because he has lost his innocence, is no longer a child, and has lost his faith in God’s justice. He can no longer define himself as either a "child" or a "student of Talmud;" now he is simply a prisoner.