Monday, April 18, 2011
Night by Elie Wiezel
Night is a phenomenal novel by Elie Wiesel that represents an accurate depiction of the life of a Jewish teenager during the Holocaust. The main character, Eliezer, is a teenager who lives in Hungarian Transylvania and analyzes both Jewish and Arabic literature. However, when his teacher, Moshe the Beadle, is deported, Elie’s entire life grinds to a stop. Moshe eventually returns and tells his students about the Gestapo who raided his train, brought everyone into the woods and began to systematically annihilate them one by one. However, everyone thinks Moshe is crazy and feigning the entire story. The Nazis slowly began to invade Hungary and started to pass many repressive laws against the Jews. The people of the town are loaded up onto train cars and brought to Auschwitz. Elie is separated from his mother and sister, although his father remains with them. The Jews are lined up and the Nazis decide whether they should be used for labor or killed on the spot. Elie and his dad are put to work, and on the way to their job they find infants being burned in mass numbers in the ovens. The Jews are all stripped and degraded before they arrive at a labor camp where they are put to work. Over the course of their stay at Auschwitz, the Jews are forced to watch their family and friends murdered, work themselves to death, and eventually resort to cruelty in order to defend themselves so that they may survive. Elie struggles with his faith and begins to wonder that although he has been taught his entire life that there MUST be a God, there could never be any higher being who serves to protect in a place like the concentration camp. After many long months inside of the camp, the Nazis make the executive decision to evacuate the camp because the Russians are approaching and want to liberate Auschwitz. The prisoners initiate a death march through a snow storm en route to Gleiwitz, another concentration camp. Most of the prisoners die because of the brutal weather, and the few survivors left are led to Buchenwald, another labor camp. Elie’s father dies of abuse and dysentery, and Elie continues suffering alone until the American army finally liberates the camp years later on April 11, 1945. This novel is an accurate and disturbing portrayal of the life of a young man during a time period which was unnerving and unsettling that many people today still deny the Holocaust ever happened. Night leaves many readers wondering what they themselves would do in Elie’s shoes, and how they would react to all of the events that Elie and many other prisoners endure. 1. After Elie’s time spent in the concentration camp, his faith in a God after seeing the brutal actions of the Nazis as well as the selfish actions of the prisoners in order to try and survive begins to falter. Do you think that the Holocaust and the cruelty of the Nazis proves that there could never be any divine being in the best interest of all humankind? 2. If you were the last person left in your family after so many tragic events such as the ones that fill Elie’s terrible life, would you have the strength to continue living or would you give up and accept your defeat?