Night by: Elie Wiesel


Wiesel's Night is about what the Holocaust did, not just to 
the Jews, but by extension, to humanity. People all over the world 
were devastated by this atrocious act, and there are still people 
today who haven't overcome the effects. One example of the heinous 
acts of the Germans that stands out occurs at the end of the war, when 
Elie and the rest of the camp of Buna is being forced to transfer to 
Gleiwitz. This transfer is a long, arduous, and tiring journey for all 
who are involved. The weather is painfully cold, and snow fell 
heavily; the distance is greater than most people today will even 
dream of walking. The huge mass of people is often forced to run, and 
if one collapses, is injured, or simply can no longer bear the pain, 
they are shot or trampled without pity. An image that secures itself 
in Elie's memory is that of Rabbi Eliahou's son's leaving the Rabbi 
for dead. The father and son are running together when the father 
begins to grow tired. As the Rabbi falls farther and farther behind 
his son, his son runs on, pretending not to see what is happening to 
his father. This spectacle causes Elie to think of what he would do if 
his father ever became as weak as the Rabbi. He decides that he would 
never leave his father, even if staying with him would be the cause of 
his death.

 The German forces are so adept at breaking the spirits of the 
Jews that we can see the effects throughout Elie's novel. Elie's faith 
in God, above all other things, is strong at the onset of the novel, 
but grows weaker as it goes on. We see this when Elie's father 
politely asks the gypsy where the lavoratories are. Not only does the 
gypsy not grace his father with a response, but he also delivers a 
blow to his head that sent him to the floor. Elie watches the entire 
exhibition, but doesn't even blink. He realizes that nothing, not even 
his faith in God, can save him from the physical punishment that would 
await him if he tried to counterattack the gypsy. If the gypsy's 
attack had come just one day earlier, Elie probably would have struck 
back. However, the effect of the spiritual beating by the Germans was 
already being felt.

 The incident that perhaps has the greatest effect on Elie is 
the hanging of the pipel. He is a young boy with an "innocent face" 
who is condemned to death because he is implicated in a conspiracy 
which results in a German building being destroyed. When the time for 
the hanging approaches, the Lagerkapo refuses to kick out the chair, 
so SS officers are assigned to do it. Unlike the necks of those he is 
hanged with, the young boy's neck does not break when he falls, and he 
suffers for over a half-hour. The suffering of the child is comparable 
to the suffering endured by many Jews during the Holocaust. He fought 
for his life, at times even seeing a bit of hope, only to be destroyed 
in the end. The Jews fought for everything they had, from their
possessions at the beginning, to their lives at the end. The result, 
however, was the same.

 At the end of the war, Elie looks into the mirror, and says he 
saw "a corpse." This "corpse" is Elie's body, but it has been robbed 
of its soul. This is similar to the loss suffered by people all over 
the world. Those not directly involved with the Holocaust were still 
alive physically, but their mind and spirit had long been dead. By the 
end of the war, Elie loses all of his faith in God and his fellow man, 
and this is the most difficult obstacle to overcome when he is 

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