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Night by Elie Wiesel - Book Report/Review Example

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Night by Elie Wiesel

Wiesel speaks with the authority of a survivor who has seen the worst humanity can offer. When his friend, Moshe the Beadle, warns the Jews of the fate that awaits them in Nazis hands, “People refused not only to believe his stories, but even to listen to them” (Wiesel 4). Young Wiesel cannot understand why Moshe the Beadle keeps telling his story. The grown author’s purpose is to tell his story because it is true, and because it is unbelievable. Some readers want to dismiss the extremes of brutality and heartlessness, but genocide continues to threaten people around the globe. Humans are capable of inhumane acts. The Nazis, Wiesel wants us to know, were human, and they did bestial things, created conditions in which their victims must do bestial things to survive.
Despite Moshe the Beadel’s warning, the community assures themselves that Hitler couldn’t really kill the Jews, that the Germans would not concern themselves with a small village. Then their leaders are arrested. Jews are forced to give up their valuables and wear the yellow star. Everyone is evacuated, first to the ghetto, then to Auschwitz.
The story is called Night because Wiesel's theme is darkness, physical and spiritual. Every moment in Auschwitz is a moment of loss. Wiesel's belongings are left on the train; his mother and sisters disappear shortly after. His world becomes perpetual night. Death awaits around every corner. As he stands at the gates of the camp, another prisoner points to the chimneys and yells, "That's your grave over there. You're going to be burned. Frizzled away. Turned into ashes" (Wiesel 28). And the young Wiesel thinks, "Surely it was all a nightmare An unimaginable nightmare"
But it is only the beginning of darkness. Wiesel and his father survive selection, forced labor, starvation, cruelty, and death all around. The camp is a picture of hell: "flames were leaping up from a ditch. A lorry drew up at the pit and delivered its load-little children. Babies! Yes, I saw it-saw it with my own eyesthose children in the flames." (Wiesel 30). Every moment is night, because waking life has become a terrible dream. He thinks, "none of this could be true. It was a nightmare. Soon I should wake" (Wiesel 30). But the Nazis have created a night that lives on in Wiesel's mind, a night that cannot and must not be forgotten.
This is his purpose, to demonstrate how men become animals and day becomes night. He suffers darkness even in daylight, because he saw a world where unthinkably terrible dreams took shape in reality. Reality can never again be the mystical, spiritual world he knew as a thirteen-year-old boy. Now he says, "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" (Wiesel 32). He demands that the reader never forget, either.
The darkness of the camps begins with physical things-constant death and ever-smoking crematoria chimneys, pain from beatings and hunger, cruelty of Nazis and prisoners-which foment spiritual darkness. Wiesel can no longer trust God. As those around him discuss religion, Wiesel says, "I had ceased to pray. I did not deny God's existence, but I doubted His absolute justice" (Wiesel 42). When day becomes night, God's nature is also inverted. The author expresses his pain in accusation. Hearing others pray, he asks, "What does Your greatness mean, Lord of the universe, in the face of all this weakness, this decomposition, and this decay" (Wiesel 63). He ...Show more

Summary

Night, by Elie Wiesel, originally published in French in 1958 (Les Editions de Minuit) is among the best-known Holocaust narratives. A powerful, gripping book, slender, but packed with the raw human emotions of fear, despair, and terror, its true horror is that every word is true…
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