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Night Essay, Research Paper

?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.? -Elie Wiesel

The Holocaust-the mass murder of European Jews by the Nazis during World War II. It

was the unthinkable, the horrific murder of 6 million Jews and millions of civilians of different

ethnic and racial backgrouds. It was average men entering the German army and turned into

Nazis, cold-blooded killers. It was the connotation of Holocaust which became Night, by Elie

Wiesel. This paints a picture, full of vivid imagery and truth, about the genocide of his own

people. Elie witnesses the starvation, brutal beating, and eventual death of his friends, family,

and fellow Jews. Wiesel, himself, survived Auschwitz, Buna, Buchenwald, and Gleiwitz, all

German concentration camps, where atrocities such as cremation and murder hung thickly in the

air like a heavy cologne.

Born September 30, 1928, Eliezer Wiesel led a life representative of many Jewish

children. Growing up in a small village in Romania, his world revolved around family, religious

study, community, and God. Yet his family, community, and his innocent faith were destroyed

upon the deportation of his village in 1944.

One of the main topics in this book is how Elie, a boy of strong religious faith, along with

many of his fellow jews, lose their faith in God due to the horrific effects of the concentration

camps. Elie Wiesel lived his early childhood in the town of Transylvania, in Hungary, during the

early 1940s. At a young age, Elie took a strong interest in Jewish religion, while he spent most

of his time studying the Talmud. Eventually he makes aquaintances with Moshe the Beadle who

takes Elie under his wing, and also instructs him more in depth of the ways of the Talmud and

cabbala. Elie is taught to question God for answers through Moshe?s instruction.

Moshe is sent away to a concentration camp, and upon his return, Elie finds that he has

changed dramatically. This is a foreshadowing of what will become of Elie?s faith in the strength

and power of God. ?Moshe had changed…He no longer talked to me of God or the cabbala, but

only of what he had seen.?(4)

The first evidence of Elie?s loss of faith, is while he questions God during the selection

process. This process is concerned with separating the young, strong, and healthy Jews, from the

old, weak, sickly, and/or infants. The Jews were separated from their loved ones who were

immediately sent to the crematory or burned in large fire pits. Elie says goodbye to his mother

and sister, unknowing that it will be the last time that he will ever see them again. Many of his

fellow Jews began to pray and recite the Kaddish, a Jewish prayer for the dead, with hopes to

console their own grievances for the loss they had suffered. However, Elie questions, ?Why

should I bless His name? The Eternal, Lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was

silent. What had I to thank Him for??(31) Elie witnesses a load of children being dumped into a

pit of flames which he labels as the ?Angel of Death,? and at this point, the diminishing effects

of the first night of camp life are already taking a toll on Elie?s religious faith and personal

self-worth.

The final deterioration of Elie?s idea of God, where he renounces all belief in His

existence, is during the funeral of 3 Jewish males who were hanged the day before. One of

whom was a child, so mere in weight, whom struggled amidst the others for over an hour before

death came to take him. Here the reader can sense the collosal loss that Elie is overcome by,

having spent the majority of his childhood seeking salvation only to come to realize it was all a

waste of time.

During this time of losing faith in religion and overcoming the tasks put forth by the

concentration camps, Elie finds strength of survival through his relationship with his father and

through hope. Although earlier in Elie?s childhood, prayer and religion had separated the two,

the experience at the concentration camps was the ultimate connection between Elie and his

father, for they believed that together they could overcome everything because they were family.

A good example is when Elie?s father is beaten for not properly marching in rank. Elie takes

time in the blocks to teach him to properly march in place. He could not leave his father to fend

for himself, although he was criticized by many of the other Jews who believed in ?every man

for themself.?

Some kinships are not like Elie?s and his father?s. One son purposely loses his father so

that he does not burden him, and another son beats and kills his own father just for food. Father

and son relationships can be seen in many parts in Night and takes a very large roll in the novel.

An example is when Elie begins to grow weary of life in the concentration camp, because at that

point he had become the strength of two lives, his own and his father?s. He feels less and less

remorse for his father and begins to believe that the beatings his father receives for not being

able to peform the various tasks put forth by the S.S. Officers are a product of his own fault for

not being strong enough nor young enough. He begins to despise his father for weighing him

down and having to take care of him, and at one point when he is in search of his father thinks,?

Don?t let me find him! If only I could get rid of this dead weight, so that I could use all my

strength to struggle for my own survival, and only worry about myself.? (101) Elie had become

hardened by his new way of life, and realized that only the fittest would emerge from this

experience still alive and well. It was truly a survival of the fittest. However, he is overcome

with guilt after a blow to the head by an officer finally ceases his father?s existence.


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