Night by: Elie Wiesel

by: marielle medina

About Elie Wiesel

(9/30/1928 - )

Born in Sighet, Transylvania (now Romania), Elie Wiesel pursued Jewish studies before his family was forced to go to Nazi death camps during WWII when he was 14. Wiesel survived, and later wrote the memoir Night, as well as many other books. He became an activist, orator and teacher, speaking out against persecution and injustice across the globe.

Overview of WWII

It was the bloodiest, deadliest war the world had ever seen. More than 38 million people died, many of them being innocent civilians. Fighting raged in many parts of the world,

and more than 50 nations took part in the war, which changed the world forever. Most of Europe had been conquered by Nazi Germany, which was controlled by Dictator Adolf Hitler. WWII began when Germany invaded Poland in 1939.


In Asia and the Pacific, Japanese armies invaded many countries. On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The next day, the U.S. Congress declared war, taking the U.S. into World War II.


Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, ending the war in Europe. The war in the Pacific did not end until after the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan — the only time atomic bombs were ever used in war. Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945.

Night Summary

Night, by Elie Wiesel, is a memoir about Elie Wiesel’s life in concentration camps during the holocaust. Elie, the deeply religious boy with a loving family consisting of three sisters and parents, is taken from home and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Elie is separated from family members (mom and sisters), but remains with his father, only to be transferred from camp to camp. Through their journey, Elie tells about the death of family members, the death of his own innocence and suffering to a point in which life and death does not matter anymore

Important quotes explained

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.

Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."


This is after Elie and his father realize they have passed their first selection. Elie is reflecting on his first night at camp, and how it will impact his life forever. This is an epiphany of his when he realizes that he will never be faithful again.

"We were masters of nature, masters of the world. We had forgotten everything—death, fatigue, our natural needs. Stronger than cold or hunger, stronger than the shots and the desire to die, condemned and wandering, mere numbers, we were the only men on earth.
At last, the morning star appeared in the gray sky. A trail of indeterminate light showed on the horizon. We were exhausted. We were without strength, without illusions."


This is after the prisoners run from Buna, and this shows God's point of view, and it shows that the highest principle is survival, and all other morality is pointless. This quote is ironic because in Jewish prayer, God is referred to "Master of the Universe" and it is at this point that they have replaced God in that role; they are now masters of the nature and the world, and they are a mere number, responsible for their own survival.

"One day I was able to get up, after gathering all my strength. I wanted to see myself in the mirror hanging on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto.

From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me.
The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me."


In the last passage of Night, Elie tells about the toll that the Holocaust took on him. He is saying that even though he was survived the war physically, he is basically dead, being killed after the suffering he had endured. When Elie says "the look in his eyes, as he stared into mine", he implies a separation of his soul and his body. In his language, he talks about the loss of self and identity as a holocaust victim, almost as he has become two different beings.

Author's purpose

Elie Wiesel's purpose in writing Night was to, obviously, write about how brutal and inhumane the holocaust was. None of the horrors, brutality, and inhumanity could be taught better than a survivor of all this.


Another reason could be so Elie could be acknowledged and heard.


Elie could have written this because he wanted others to know the dangers in staying silent. Although he talks about the Nazi's cruelty, he also speaks to the Jews that didn't speak out when they knew something was going on. For instance, when Moshe the Beadle was taken, many Jews dismissed it and said it was because he was insane. None, however spoke about how his individual rights were taken away. Elie speaks to the Jews that didn't speak out, and if they had, they wouldn't have let their fellow Jews deal with all the inhumanity. This also teaches that silence only benefits the perpetrators of cruelty.

Major Themes & Symbols

Themes:


Silence

There is a part in the book where a boy asks "where is God" after the run from Buna, which is returned by silence. Elie is left to wonder how an all knowing, all powerful God can allow such horrors to occur to such loyal people. Theres also a different type of silence throughout the book. Silence from the victims, and the lack of Nazi threat. Throughout the book, there is a silence, which allows the Holocaust to continue.


Symbols:


Fire

In Night, fire resembles the Nazi's cruel power. On the way to Auschwitz, the lady on the train gets a vision of fire, as a horror to come. In the Bible, fire is associated with God and divine wrath. But in Night, the wicked are punished by fire. And it is from the fire that killed the innocent that Elie's religion was forever demolished.


Night

In Night, suffering is at its worst at night. When the prisoners arrived at Auschwitz, it is at night. The horrible run from Buna occurs at night. And the first time that Elie says "night fell" is when his father is telling stories and when he is informed about the deportation of Jews.

Personal Reaction

I originally read this book in eighth grade, so I knew what was coming, however, I time has passed and I didn't remember as much as I thought I did. After rereading Night, it have made me admire Elie even more for having the boldness to write a book and tell so many people about what it was really like in the concentration camps. What makes Elie so admirable to me is even though he lost his mom, and his sisters, his dad, and his religion, and he still carried on with all the pain and loss of everything. It really is an eye opener and it makes me truly appreciate what I have.

Personal recomendation

I recommend this book to 13 year olds and up. I personally am a wuss when it comes to this sort of thing, but if you think you're mature enough to handle it, go for it. I think this would be more appealing to history nuts (obviously) or if you really want a better understanding of what it was like as a Jew in WWII.