The publichangings are used as examples to what happens to prisoners if they break one of therules. Elie has vivid memories about the public hanging. He tells us about them in thenovel. One of the instances of a hanging, was when the sad eyed angel was hung. He wasa kapo in the camp Elie was in.
Elie liked him because of his kindness. He seemed to bethe only officer in the camp that had an ounce of compassion. He hung for knowingabout a secret weapon stash and not telling about it. For Elie, this symbolized the deathof hope. This is where he started to loose faith in god. Another instance of a hanging, was when the three men where hanged for stealingsoup.
This did not effect Elie in the same way. He felt that they brought the death onthemselves. They were paying the price for stealing the soup. He did not question thehanging. He knew if you break the rules, you will be killed. It was common knowledgein the camps.
I am sure the men knew this, they were just overcome with hunger andcould not think strait. The hangings lowered Elie’s faith in god. Everytime someone died in the camp,Elie would stop believing in god just a little more. This ended with the death of hisfather. The first hanging Elie witnessed, was devastating.
He had never seen anythinglike it. One horrific experience for Elie was when one person did not die during thehanging. He did not weigh enough for the fall to break his neck. He hung suffocating for a while. All the hangings were terrible experiences for Elie.
Nobody could not walk awayunaffected by the hangings. Every public killing deteriorated Elie’s faith. The sad eyedangel was the end of hope for Elie. After that, he understood the murderous nature of theHolocaust.
Elie walked away a completely different person than how he entered.