Analysis of Night by Elie Wiesel

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

Firstly, there is a slight difference between the author of Night, Elie Wiesel, and its narrator and protagonist, Eliezer. However, Night is not a fictional novel but does altercate certain minor details. For instance, Wiesel hurts his knee while Eliezer damages his foot, which places some distance between himself and the protagonist, Eliezer (Pfefferkorn 23). The character is based on reality and on Wiesel himself, but creating distance from himself as a character lets him distance slightly from the trauma, suffering, and misery about which he writes and narrates.

Wiesel’s character in Night, Eliezer, is not only based on reality and historically, but also symbolically. Eliezer represents the emotional truth and betrayal of many of the Jews in the Holocaust. As Eliezer fights and crawls for survival, his initial religious beliefs—his faith in God. Faith in his fellow neighbors, and some sense of justice in the world—are profoundly questioned and observed. He watches the depths of cruelty and selfishness pile up as the dead bodies of the Jews and other imprisoned slaves did. He began sinking as did his beliefs and with Eliezer, Wiesel closely and personally recounts his traumatic memories and his transformation as a starved prisoner during the Holocaust. With the haunting experiences, he still somewhat felt imprisoned after being released from the camp.

Moishe the Beadle is the first character introduced in Night but is only present in the first few pages. His values reverberate throughout the text although he himself disappears. Obviously, Moshe is based on a real person and of course historically in the context of the beginning of the Holocaust and after the Cold War was announced. Moishe, however, symbolizes, first and foremost, an intense and earnest obligation to Judaism, and to Jewish spirituality precisely. As Eliezer’s Cabbala educator, Moishe enthusiastically discusses the riddles of the universe and God’s significance to the expedition for understanding. Moishe’s words formulate the battle of Eliezer’s brawl for faith, which is discussed and emphasized in Night.

In Moishe’s statement “I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions,” he illustrates two concepts explanations to Eliezer’s struggle with God: the impression that God is universally, even spiritually inside individuals, and the idea that faith is founded on questioning, not answering (Wiesel 3). Eliezer’s fight with faith is, for the most part, a struggle followed by endless questions. When he witnesses violence, abuse, starvation, and death, he recurrently asks where God is and asks how such malicious and evil could exist in the world. Moishe’s words communicate us that these vicious instants don’t reflect Eliezer’s loss in faith; instead, they establish his continuing Jewish theological commitment. Nevertheless, Night also gives Eliezer’s little to no faith points—predominantly when he witnesses the pipel (a child) hung in Buna—he is bursting of answers instead of questions. In these events, he has undeniably lost the essence of faith he absorbed from Moishe and is justly faithless.

Lastly, Moishe may also play a role as a substitute for Wiesel himself as his presence conjures a predominant drive of the whole text. As stated beforehand, Night can be construed as an attack against poisonous silence (Night 399). In many periods in the work, evil is continued because of a silent lack of resistance or—in the instance of Moishe’s cautions—by disregarding reports of evil. Wiesel, alike to Moishe, tolerates witnessing to tragedy in order to heavily advise others to prevent everything like the Holocaust from ever taking place again.

Throughout the long nights in the train, Madame Schächter, an old woman separated from family, interrupts the confined Jews’ journey with ear-piercing rambling about fire and flames, cautioning and begging the others to see the blazing fire. Loathing and exhausted to attend to her warnings, the Jews tore her down rather than recognize the peril they are in. Madame Schächter not only foreshadows the cruel death that is to wait for all of them, but the literal way the Jews will die—their bodies cremated in the furnaces of Auschwitz. In addition, Eliezer even sees babies being burned in ditches, further alluding to the notion of death awaiting everyone. Madame Schächter is a symbol of resistance, like Moishe the Beatle. She screamed about the fire and people ignored and beat then went back to silence. She also intensifies Eliezer’s initial skeptical mind if God existed, then where was he. He questioned if God existed, then why was this lady yelling at the top of her lungs in a room compacted with strangers and no oxygen needed to be wasted.

In the Bible, fire, which the word is yelled by Madame Schächter is linked with God and celestial wrath. Furthermore, in postbiblical works, flame also is referred as a power of divine vengeance. At Gehenna—the Jewish form of Hell—the evil is disciplined with fire. In contradiction, in Night, it is the wicked who exert the control and power of fire, practicing it to punish and kill the innocent. This reversal proves how the involvement as a Jew or other prisoner in the Holocaust has distressed Eliezer’s complete perception of the world and even the universe, especially his belief in a compassionate, or even fair, God.

Next, there is Shlomo, who is Eliezer’s father and Elie’s father. There is a lack of insight into Shlomo, which represents the work’s obligation to Eliezer’s viewpoint. Instead of seeing and understanding experiences objectively through Shlomo’s eyes, we study him through Eliezer’s own eyes. Eliezer endlessly thinks of his father, and their relationship is vital to Eliezer’s experience. Eliezer’s father is an aspect of Eliezer’s life and not so much a three-dimensional character. Shlomo is a dominantly central character in the memoir because he is of the highest importance to Eliezer. He functions and symbolizes almost as the focus of Eliezer’s struggle for survival. Eliezer’s connection with his father recaps him of essentials feelings of love, duty, and commitment to his family (Popkin 49). His promise to his father signifies him of his own humanity and fundamentally, of the innocence and justice left in his heart. Surrounding him, he watches fellow prisoners plunging to the deepest holes of self-centeredness and cruelty. However, his father retells him that life does exist outside of the Holocaust, and an established set of important, moral values that surpass the brutality and dehumanization of the Nazi world.

Like his own son, Shlomo, was an optimist until he lands in the Birkenau concentration camp. Initially, Shlomo is praying, but Eliezer disagrees, “For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for?” (Wiesel 61-63). As they enter Birkenau and begin to realize the horrors that surround them, Eliezer begins to lose his unconditional devotion to God, triggered by his father’s praying. Once at Birkenau, Shlomo transforms into a realist. Eliezer’s father tells Eliezer that they are in peril and that the Nazi officers will scorch and murder the prisoners. He’s also realistic about the certain food event, realizing he needs to portion the food he is given and not deny anything eatable. Nonetheless, as Shlomo becomes weaker, sick, and fragile, he derives to rely worryingly on Eliezer. “By the time he dies, the man who was once a community leader is now practically a child—defenseless, easily brought to tears, and totally dependent on Eliezer,” explains Peter Manseau, author of “Revising Night” (389).

For Eliezer, his father is significantly a heavy burden on many occasions, plummeting his chances of surviving, yet more than often Shlomo is a motive for him to keep on fighting. Occasionally when Eliezer mistakenly believes his father is a dead corpse, his will to live vanishes. Moreover, his father’s existence keeps Eliezer from becoming solely self-centered or wholly absorbed in self-protection, guiding him to hold on to his humanity. When his ill father passes, Eliezer states nothing mattered anymore. At the end, Eliezer’s biggest remorse is lied upon the fact that he left his father to die unaccompanied. In spite of his father voicing out his name on his last breaths, Eliezer picked to sleep rather than to stay awake alongside his father. At this moment, this also reflected Eliezer’s complete loss in faith, yet kept going.

Cite this paper

Analysis of Night by Elie Wiesel. (2020, Sep 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/analysis-of-night-by-elie-wiesel/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out