Night (A Book Report)


 "For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and
death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the
face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still
red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me I heard [a] man asking: Where
is God now?" 
 The suffering of this child being hanged is comparable to the suffering
endured by many Jews during the holocaust. This quotation is found in just
one of many heart wrenching scenes found in Night, a biography of the
holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel. Wiesel stayed quiet about the holocaust for
ten years and his reasoning for this was, "I didn't want to use the wrong
words. I was afraid the words might betray it." This also may account for
the fact that some of the sentences found in Night are very wordy and often
are overwhelming to the reader because of the amount of significance found in
each. This flaw, though, is very forgivable under the circumstances. 
 Besides for the brilliant descriptions found in Night and the feeling that
you were walking in Elie's shoes, if he literally had any, Night opens the
readers mind to the
atrocities of the holocaust and concentration camps. We take for granted,
today, our knowledge of knowing how many Jews were killed by the Nazi's and
having a general idea of the kind of life people led in the concentration
camps. People never really stop to think about what it must have felt like
not knowing what was going on or what was going to happen next. Wiesel
illustrates this very clearly at the beginning of his autobiography. He shows
the reaction of the townspeople when they first heard
of Hitler and German troops and the optimistic approach they ecided to take on
life. This technique of taking the reader to
life before the ghettos and the concentration camps is very
interesting and unique. Before reaching about the middle of the
novel, the beginning may not really be appreciated. The reader
probably will not realize how much greater the effect is on
him/her until he/she notices how much life has changed for
Wiesel and the rest of the Jews and how unexpected this change
was. Night shows the progression of an innocent twelve year old
boy who's days were composed of studying the Talmud turn into a
"corpse." The German forces are so adept at breaking the
spirits of the Jews that we can see the effects throughout the
 Elie's faith in God, above all other things, is strong at
the onset of the novel, but grows weaker as time goes on. On
the day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, thousands of men
came to attend services. Thousands of voices repeated, "Blessed
be the Name of the Eternal!" Eliezer thought, "Why, but why
should I bless Him? Because he had thousands of children burned
in his pits?... How could I say to Him: "Blessed art thou,
Eternal, Master of the Universe, Who chose us from among the
races to be tortured day and night? Praised be Thy Holy Name,
Thou Who hast chosen us to be butchered on Thine altar?" 
 Many instances throughout this novel show how desensitized
people became in the concentration camps. In order to survive
this was a necessity. Every week in Buna there was a selection
process. The weak were sent to the ovens and the strong
continued on. A friend of Elie's did not pass the selection one
week and all he asked as he walked away was, "In three days...
say the Kaddish for me." They promised that in three days when
they saw the smoke rising they would think of him but three days
came and three days passed and no one recited the Kaddish. 
 At one point in the novel the camp that Elie and his
father were residing in was forced to transfer to Gleiwitz. It
was painfully cold weather and "the snow fell relentlessly." A
scene that secured itself in Elie's memory is that of Rabbi
Eliahou running beside his son when he begins to grow tired and
slowly starts to fall behind. His son pretends not to even see
what is happening to his father and keeps on running. Elie
makes a promise to himself that he will always be there for his
father, even if it is the cause of his death. Later in the
novel, though, it gets harder and harder for Elie to keep this
promise, especially when his father becomes very ill.
 Unlike many books written on the holocaust that may just
list facts or jump around from person to person, Night is
written in a first person narration form. The reader not only
goes everywhere with Eliezer but also knows every thought that
runs through his head. Although, at times, it is a very
terrifying book to read, it is also very valuable. This
biography leaves the reader with an "unforgettable message that
this horror must never be allowed to happen again." 


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