Why is Mrs. Schahter the First to Break Down?

During the journey to Auschwitz, Mrs. Schachter is separated from her family, which causes her to break down. She begins to scream and yell about flames and fire on the train, causing panic among the other prisoners. While the others try to ignore the truth, Mrs. Schachter understands the terrible fate that awaits them all.

Mrs. Schachter’s breakdown is a result of the trauma of losing her family. Her emotional suffering becomes too much to bear, causing her to lose her mind. The other prisoners see her as a madwoman and try to make her stop screaming. They do not want to face the reality of their situation, and so they try to explain away her behavior.

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Despite the other prisoners’ attempts to rationalize Mrs. Schachter’s behavior, she is the only one who truly understands their fate. Her screams about flames and fire turn out to be prophetic, as they foreshadow the horrors that await them at Auschwitz. The other prisoners are unable to accept the truth until they arrive at the concentration camp and see it for themselves.


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