Night, Elie Wiesel

By: Gabby Sahm

Biography

Elie Wiesel was born on September 30, 1928 in the town of Sighet, Romania. He didn't get to go to school really because when he was 15, him and his family were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz. His mother, youngest sister and father all ended up dying at the camp. Elie and his two other sisters survived however. After the war, Elie became a journalist in Paris. During an interview he was persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps. This resulted in his novel Night. The became a huge hit, earning him the Nobel Peace Prize. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Holocaust

The holocaust was the mass murder or genocide of approximately six million Jews during World War 2. Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, two-thirds were killed. Over one million Jewish children were killed, two million Jewish women were killed and three million Jewish men were killed. These acts were all carried out under the command of Adolf Hitler, and his Nazi party. The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages. Concentration camps were established in which inmates were subjected to slave labor until they died of exhaustion. Woman, and small children were often killed right when they arrived at the camps. They were either put in gas chambers or shot.

Summary

Night is narrated by Eliezer, a Jewish teenager who, when the memoir begins, lives in his hometown of Sighet, in Hungarian Transylvania. In the spring of 1944, the Nazis occupy Hungary. Not long afterward, a series of increasingly repressive measures are passed, and the Jews of Eliezer’s town are forced into small ghettos within Sighet. Soon they are herded onto cattle cars, and a nightmarish journey ensues. After days and nights crammed into the car, exhausted and near starvation, the passengers arrive at Birkenau, the gateway to Auschwitz. Upon his arrival in Birkenau, Eliezer and his father are separated from his mother and sisters, whom they never see again. In the first of many “selections” that Eliezer describes in the memoir, the Jews are evaluated to determine whether they should be killed immediately or put to work. Eliezer and his father seem to pass the evaluation, but before they are brought to the prisoners’ barracks, they stumble upon the open-pit furnaces where the Nazis are burning babies by the truckload. After months in the camp, Eliezer undergoes an operation for a foot injury. While he is in the infirmary, however, the Nazis decide to evacuate the camp because the Russians are advancing and are on the verge of liberating Buna. In the middle of a snowstorm, the prisoners begin a death march: they are forced to run for more than fifty miles to the Gleiwitz concentration camp. Many die of exposure to the harsh weather and exhaustion. At Gleiwitz, the prisoners are herded into cattle cars once again. They begin another deadly journey: one hundred Jews board the car, but only twelve remain alive when the train reaches the concentration camp Buchenwald. Throughout the ordeal, Eliezer and his father help each other to survive by means of mutual support and concern. In Buchenwald, however, Eliezer’s father dies of dysentery and physical abuse. Eliezer survives, an empty shell of a man until April 11, 1945, the day that the American army liberates the camp.

Quotes

"My father's presence was the only thing that stopped me. He was running next to me, out of breath, out of strength, desperate. I had no right to let myself die. What would he do without me, I'm his sole support." (86)


"His last words has been my name. He had called out to me and I had not responded." (112)

Writer's Purpose

The reason Elie wrote this book was to explain what he went through. I almost feel like it was closer for him. He let it all out there for the world to read, and I commend him for it. He wanted to people to know his story, and what happened to him during this period in his life.

Major Theme(s)

As long as you have something to fight for, you can get though anything that comes you're way.


This is true because no matter what Elie was feeling, he also thought of his father first. He never gave up because he had his dad to fight for.

Symbol

The anchor is a symbol of hope, which is something Elie questioned through out the book. He had hope in God before he went into the camps, but after he was taken, and put through months of tortured he started to question his hope in God.

Personal Reflection and Recommendation

I enjoyed this book. I didn't think I would but I did. All the things that Elie had to go through really made me want to keep reading so I could see what happened next. He but so much emotion into this book that if really makes the reader feel what he was feeling when the events occurred.


I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys war novels, and personal experience books.