Monday, February 14, 2011

Chapter 4 (pages 47-65): The soup tasted . . .

After the hanging of the Polish boy and the death of the old man at the soup cauldron, Elie said, "The soup tasted better than ever . . ." (63 or 65)

After the hanging of the "pipel, the sad-eyed angel," Elie said, "That night, the soup tasted of corpses."

What was the difference?


  1. In Elie's eyes, both the old man and the Polish boy had done wrongs to deserve the punishments they received. The pipel, however, was an innocent boy who had done nothing wrong to deserve his wretched fate. The Polish boy had stolen during the alert, and the old man at the cauldron had attempted to get his fill of soup while the camp was being bombed. While the other prisoners watched the old man, "jealousy consumed them" and in their thoughts, they were "murdering him" (57). They felt no pity for this man who was daring enough to fill his stomach, while countless others watched starving. They felt his death was his due. Unlike him, the pipel with the beautiful face deserved to live his life. When the Gestapo interrogated him, he refused to say a word, remaining loyal to the Jewish prisoners, and when they saw his tiny body being hung, they questioned God. They could not bare watching a guiltless child suffer for crimes he did not commit. The fact that he remained alive and experienced death slowly made them cringe the most, which is why the soup tasted like corpses.

  2. I totally agree with Sonya. I can only begin to imagine why the soup tasted more better than ever after seeing the hanging of the two men who had tried to steal during the air raid. I mean I wish I could enter into Elie's memories and feel what he felt so that I could understand him more clearly. But by reading this, I think that he feels this way because he may see their punishment as something good. Trying to view things in Elie’s perspective, a reason why I would taste the soup better that day after the hanging is because I would see those men as guilty. They tried to steal something’s that was not their’s while the rest of the prisoner’s had to find refuge inside the blocks. Also, the way he describes how he felt when a man was able to reach a cauldron during the raid, he felt “jealousy devour [him,].” So by reading this, I think that if he was jealous that the old man was able to reach the cauldron of soup and he was full of rage, then of course he would be mad if another man thought that they could steal something and also get away with it. Maybe he sees the deaths of the men as justice being served because he may have thought that they deserved to get caught. He may have wanted equality between everyone. But when it came to the little boy, he felt sorry for him. His feelings started to intervene with his senses. Also, Elie views the death of the little boy with anguish because he views the little boys death as the death of his faith. When a man behind him asks, "For God's sake, where is God?(65)", he replies "Where He is? This is where-- hanging here from the gallows...(65)." Elie has seen many be hanged, but the fact that a little boy is hanged and that he struggles to die, is devastating. he is pretty much saying that if God were there, then this would not have happen. But since it did occur, it proves his belief that God is not there.

  3. The difference is that the night the old man died, it's not that he deserved it, but more that he didn't matter as much as a child dying. The man had lived his life, possibly to his fullest. The child didn't have a chance to live life, to experience the world around him. The child didn't get to experience the joys of falling in love or hearing his child's laughter. There are so many joys in life that he didn't get to experience that the other men that were hung did. The ideas of how the soups tasted on each specific night was all psychological. It was the sorrow and sadness of witnessing the hanging that "changed" the taste of the soups.


  4. The difference in the two is age and experience. Elie thought of the old man having already lived the life he owned. He has been through many experiences, good and bad. Many apologies, mistakes, embarrassing moments he has encountered. He has been through the laughs, the tears of joy, and the happiest of times. The soup tasted better than ever because he happy. He didn't mourn, but instead celebrated the life he lived. It seemed as if he did not die, but just moved on. On the other, the Polish boy, has had next to no time to live any kind of life compared to his. He couldn't learn from his mistakes, play with new friends, or explore new places. He didn't have time to learn. The saddest part is all of the dreams he might have had has gone to waste, and on top of all of that he suffered a slow and painful death. This made Elie feel broken as if the boy could not move on, but just die. This made his soup taste bitter. I think Elie's soup varied in taste according to his feelings.

  5. I agree with what Sonya was saying. The Polish boy and the old man did do something wrong to deserve their deaths. The Polish boy stole during the alert and the old man ate from the cauldron. The pipel on the other hand did not really do anything wrong. He was hanged because he would not talk. He was trying to save someone else and stayed loyal towards the Jews. After being through a lot in the concentration camps, many Jews, including Elie, lost compassion towards the each other. But when they saw the pipel not talk as he sacrificed his life, Elie felt the compassion and loyalty. And that is why the soup tasted of corpse.

    But I also think that the difference here is because of the appearance. Its sad to say yes, but appearance does matter. For example, if two people were being interviewed for a job and one shows up with their Sunday's best and the other shows up with their pajamas on, who would get picked? Well of course the person who looked nicer and more attractive. Well in this case, the hanging of the pipel with the sad angel eyes took more affect on Elie because of his appearance. Because of the pipel's appearance, Elie could remember the hanging of the pipel more clearly as he ate the soup than the Polish boy's death as well as the old man's death at the cauldron.

    -Jessica C

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  7. The polish boy was sturdy and big. He looked older and seemed to accept his death, he had committed a crime and had been charged for it, The pipel committed a crime as well and he too had to pay for it with his life. The difference is the pipel was a child who had not lived, who was not ready. As the pipel awaited his death he seemed calm and yet he was afraid. I think that a part of the poignancy of this was that the boy was silent, even as he knew he was not going to see another day again, he still remained quiet. More important in a way death would be better than death taking him away from the cruelty of a concentration camp. Another important thing is that for him the day the boy was hanged was the day Elie began to question his god “Where is God?” “…This is where- hanging here from this gallows…” (P.63). That symbolizes Elie’s hope being hanged, being destroyed along with his God.