Foreshadowing Literary foreshadowing involves early hints of a text’s major themes or conflicts. Foreshadowing in literature can also take the form of more direct omens or presages of fictitious characters’ futures.
Example: “The five o’clock by the chimney still marked time, but the oriole nest in the elm was untenanted and rocked back and forth like an empty cradle. The last graveyard flowers were blooming, and their smell drifted across the cotton field and through every room of our house, speaking the names of our dead.” - James Hurst, “The Scarlet Ibis”
Knowing that in the short story quoted above that a major character dies tragically, how is this excerpt from the opening paragraph a prime example of foreshadowing in terms of tone?
List other words or phrases that contribute to this foreshadowing tone:
Elie Wiesel And throughout those evenings a conviction grew in me that Moshe the Beadle would draw me with him into eternity, into that time where question and answer would become one.
Then one day they expelled all the foreign Jews from Sighet. And Moshe the Beadle was a Foreigner.
Crammed into cattle trains by Hungarian police, they wept bitterly. We stood on the platform and wept too. The train disappeared on the horizon; it left nothing behind but its thick, dirty smoke.
I heard a Jew behind me heave a sigh.
"What can we expect?" he said. "Its war…."
The deportees were soon forgotten. A few days after they had gone, people were saying that they had arrived in Galicia, were working there, and were even satisfied with their lot.
Several days passed. Several weeks. Several months. Life had returned to normal. A wind of calmness and reassurance blew through our houses. The traders were doing good business. The students lived buried in their books, and the children played in the streets.
One day, as I was just going into the synagogue, I saw sitting on a bench near the door, Moshe the Beadle.
He told his story and that of his companions. The train full of deportees had crossed the
Hungarian frontier and on the Polish territory had been taken in charge by the Gestapo. There it had stopped. The Jews had to get out and climb into lorries. The lorries drove toward a forest. The Jews were made to get out. They were made to dig huge graves. And when they had finished their work, the Gestapo began theirs. Without passion, without haste, they slaughtered their prisoners…How had Moshe the Beadle escaped? Miraculously. He was wounded in the leg and taken for dead.
Through long days and nights, he went from one Jewish house to another telling the story of Malka, the young girl who had taken three days to die, and of Tobias, the tailor who had begged to be killed before his sons.
Moshe had changed. There was no longer any joy in his eyes. He no longer sang. He no longer talked to me of God or of the cabala but only of what he had seen. People refused not only to believe his stories, but even to listen to them…
"You don't understand," he said in despair. "You can't understand. I have been saved
miraculously. I managed to get back here. Where did I get the strength from? I wanted to
come back to Sighet to tell you the story of my death. So that you could prepare yourselves while there was still time. To live? I don't attach any importance to my life any more. I'm alone. No, I wanted to come back, and to warn you. And see how it is, no one will listen to me..."
The Germans were already in the town, the Fascists were already in power, the verdict had already been pronounced, yet the Jews of Sighet continued to smile…
On the seventh day of Passover the curtain rose. The Germans arrested the leaders of the
Jewish community. From that moment, everything happened very quickly. The race toward death had begun…
We had a woman with us named Madame Schachter. She was about fifty; her ten-year-old son was with her, crouched in a corner. Her husband and two eldest sons had been deported with the first transport by mistake. The separation had completely broken her.
I knew her well. A quiet woman with tense, burning eyes, she had often been to our house. Her husband, who was a pious man, spent his days and nights in study, and it was she who worked to support the family.
Madame Schachter had gone out of her mind. On the first day of the journey she had already begun to moan and to keep asking why she had been separated from her family. As time went on, her cries grew hysterical.
On the third night, while we slept, some of us sitting one against the others and some standing, a piercing cry split the silence:
"Fire! I can see a fire! I can see a fire!"
There was a moment's panic. Who was it who had cried out? It was Madame Schachter.
Standing in the middle of the wagon, in the pale light from the windows, she looked like a withered tree in a cornfield. She pointed her arm toward the window, screaming:
"Look! Look at it! Fire! A terrible fire! Mercy! Oh, that fire!"
Some of the men pressed up against the bars. There was nothing there; only the darkness.
The shock of this terrible awakening stayed with us for a long time. We still trembled from it. With every groan of the wheels on the rail, we felt that an abyss was about to open beneath our bodies. Powerless to still our own anguish, we tried to console ourselves:
Her little boy was crying hanging onto her skirt, trying to take hold of her hands. "It's all right, Mummy! There's nothing there...Sit down!" This shook me even more than his mother's screams had done.
Some women tried to calm her. "You'll find your husband and your sons again….in a few days. . ."
She continued to scream, breathless, her voice broken by sobs. "Jews, listen to me! I can see a fire there are huge flames! It is a furnace!"
It was as though she were possessed by an evil spirit which spoke from the depths of her
We tried to explain it away, more to calm ourselves and to recover our own breath than to
comfort her. "She must be very thirsty, poor thing! That's why she keeps talking about a fire devouring her."
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 a 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…
But we had reached a station. Those who were next to the windows told us its name:
No one had ever heard that name…
Through the windows we could see barbed wire; we realized that this must be the camp.
We had forgotten the existence of Madame Schachter. Suddenly, we heard terrible screams:
"Jews, look! Look through the window! Flames! Look!"
And as the train stopped, we saw this time that flames were gushing out of a tall chimney into the black sky.
What are the similarities between Moshe the Beadle and Madame Schachter, the response they both receive from their Jewish companions, and the truth of their messages within the opening chapter of Wiesel‘s novel?
Moshe the Beadle
How do the events involving both characters qualify as foreshadowing?
Answer the essay question below: In Elie Wiesel’s Night, the author casts two early characters into the almost biblical role of ignored prophets who fail to effectively forewarn the Jews of Sighet of their approaching doom. In a well-organized response, complete with text evidence and compelling commentary, outline how the use of foreshadowing directly contributes to this sense of ignored warnings and deepens the significance of Moshe the Beadle’s and Madame Schachter’s presence within the text.