Optimism Quotes. By Kurt Werner, Tyler Mangifico , and Peter Galante.
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By Kurt Werner, Tyler Mangifico, and Peter Galante
This quote relates to our theme of false optimism and denial because the prisoners are saying how Buna is so good compared to the past. However, we know that they are actually in very bad conditions and in constant danger of dying. Even though they are comparing it to the past, nobody should ever say that the situation that they were in was good, no matter what the context.
“‘You’re lucky to have been brought here so late. This camp is paradise today, compared to what it was like two years ago. Buna was a real hell then. There were no blankets, less soup and bread.’ ” (66)
In this quote, Elie’s relative Stein is excited about seeing his family. However, even if he did see his family there was a good chance that they wouldn’t all make it out alive and together, and by seeing the parts of the camp they have already witnessed, they must’ve known that. The optimism he has because he will get to see his family is short lived and may have weakened him more than any other thing could have in the camps.
“He came toward us one evening, his face radiant. ‘A transport’s just come in from Antwerp. I’m going to see them tomorrow. They’ll be sure to have news.’ ” (42)
“Two days after my operation, there was a rumor going round the camp that the front had suddenly drawn nearer? The Red Army, they said, was advancing on Buna; it was only a matter of hours now.” (76)
After Elie’s operation on his foot, he hears a rumor about being liberated by the Soviet Army. This gets the Jews hopes up and makes them feel better about their situation. However, they have heard these rumors going around before, and they always hope for the best only to have their hopes denied, yet they still believe.
The Jews in the concentration camps are convinced that the worst part of their captivity is behind them and that they will have an easier time from now on. They are falsely convinced of this and use this to make themselves a little more confident about what will soon happen to them.
“The trees were in bloom. It was a year like so many others, with its spring, its engagements, its weddings, and its births. The people were saying, ‘The Red Army is advancing with giant strides …Hitler will not be able to harm us, even if he wants to …’ Yes, we even doubted his resolve to exterminate us. Annihilate an entire people? Wipe out a population dispersed throughout so many nations? So many millions of people! By what means? In the middle of the twentieth century!” (page 6)
This quote shows how the Jews of Sighet weren’t confident in Hitler’s ability to harm them. They believed that they would be fine and that nothing would happen to them. However, they were completely wrong and were sent to the concentration camps.
“Several days passed. Several weeks. Several months. Life had returned to normal. A wind of calmness and reassurance blew through our houses.” (Page 4)
In this quote, the Jews of Sighet are feeling much more confident about their situation and are living their lives like there is nothing to worry about. They believe that nothing will happen, and denying the fact that Hitler, his anti-Semitism, and his fascist rule is coming closer and closer to them.
“But it was in vain. Our terror was about to burst the sides of the train. Our nerves were at breaking point. Our flesh was creeping. It was as though madness were taking possession of us all. We could stand it no longer. Some of the young men forced her to sit down, tied her up, and put a gag in her mouth.” (Page 23)
In this quote, the Jews in Elie’s community don’t believe in Hitler’s plans and believe they are safe where they are. They are denying the fact that Hitler can make his final push into their community, which he eventually does.
In this quote, the Jews of Sighet are still happy and in no fear of their situation and the evil man that ruled over them. They firmly believed that Hitler just did this because he was the new leader in control, and that changes were to be expected.
“The Germans were already in town, the Fascists were already in power, the verdict was already out—and the Jews of Sighet were still smiling.” Page 7
Although the Jews were moved into the ghetto, they still found the silver lining of the cloud, when they should have been preparing to escape the ghettos or another way to stay alive. Their false optimism and denial was running rampant and caused more harm than it prevented.
“When they came back, they told us that, in exchange for a gold watch, they had discovered that this was the last stop. We would be getting out here. There was a labor camp. Conditions were good. Families would not be split up. Only the young people would go to work in the factories. The old men and the invalids would be kept occupied in the fields. The barometer of confidence soared.” (Page 24)
This quote appears when the Jews in Elie’s cattle car first reach Birkenau. They believe that they will be in decent conditions and are not concerned with what they will soon be faced with, and their false optimism only makes the reality hit them harder.