Wednesday, April 16, 2008
To the Gas Chamber
In Tadeusz Borowski’s short story, “Ladies and Gentlemen, to the Gas Chamber,” the narrator uses a great deal of sarcasm and matter-of-fact speech to tell the deeply disturbing story of prisoners in the infamous Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz. This matter-of-fact, sarcastic style is clearly exhibited in the second sentence of Borowski’s narrative, which states, “True, we had already passed through the delousing process and received our clothing back from the tanks filled a dilution of cyclone in water which so excellently poisoned lice in clothing and people in gas chambers… (Borowski).” In this section, the author introduce the sentence by saying, “True,…” which makes the following sentence sound less important and more like an everyday, common occurrence. He also eliminates humanity from this sentence by making the poison the active agent. He could have stated that people were poisoned by the mixture of cyclone and water, but instead, perhaps alluding to the helpless nature of the prisoners, he writes, “a dilution of cyclone in water which so excellently poisoned … people in gas chambers… (Borowski).” Indeed, throughout “Ladies and Gentlemen, to the Gas Chamber,” the author makes repeated use of sarcasm and matter-of-fact speech to provide an emotionally detached, cold, and provocative look at life in Auschwitz.