Holocaust In The Night By Elie Wiesel
The book Night is a memoir that was written to capture the details of Elie Wiesel’s life during the holocaust. The book mentions the inhumane treatment of Jewish people and the mass genocide of 6 million Jews. Night illustrates the effects of cruelty and hatred on Jewish society by providing specific details of the cruel actions committed against them. Wiesel reveals major themes such as religion is not the only source of hope, the family is a priority, and memories fade, but the pain remains by applying various literary devices to show the dark sides of human nature.
Wiesel describes the loss of faith using allusion and imagery to portray the faith in God was questioned. While religion is a major source of hope, it is not the only one because faith could be lost and be replaced by the desire to survive. Jews in concentration camps questioned their faith as they endured acts of cruelty and hatred from the Nazis. Many believed that God was not in their favor and that they were being punished. For instance, Elie said: “My heart was bursting. The moment had come. I was face to face with the angel of death.” This is referred to as the SS officer named Mengele, who was known to perform human experiments and kill innocent Jews. Wiesel uses allusion in this sentence to allude to the angel of death and this is done to help the reader make connections and understand the situation better. It must not be forgotten when Elie first arrived at the camp in Auschwitz, he said “Not far from us flames were leaping up from a ditch, gigantic flames. They were burning something. A lorry drew up from the pit and delivered its load–little children.” (Wiesel 30) The author had witnessed the mass murder of innocent lives. This questioned his faith in God and humanity because he wondered why God was letting this happen and how the world was still silent. He couldn’t believe his eyes and had many sleepless nights following the incident. He did not understand why religious people were sent to their deaths when God was watching over them. The author uses imagery to appeal to the reader’s sense of sight which would help with understanding the situation. This allows the reader to develop an image of what the innocent Jew lives were experiencing in the concentration camps and the inhumane treatment they were forced into. The ways of God punishing the Jewish population were discussed among the prisoners in the camps. Consequently, many Jews lost hope along with their religion because they believed that God had done injustice to them. Furthermore, religion was not a source of hope anymore as the desire to survive replaced religion and that became the base of hope.
The author illustrated that family is a priority by inserting symbols, using similes, and foreshadowing major events. In times of crisis, taking care of your family should be your priority and your needs should be secondary. Standing with your family was one way to get through the dark times in the Holocaust. Take for instance the case of Madame Schachter, who screamed “Fire! I can see a fire!” (Wiesel 20) while on the train to Buna. The people on the train would always hit her and tie her up, but her son remained with her “crying, hanging onto her skirt.” (Wiesel 20) The author applies foreshadowing before the arrival of the Jewish people at Buna. This shows that the Jews were unaware of the crematoriums that Madame Schachter was talking about when referencing fire. They thought that she was crazy, but the author was showing what was coming next in their life which was now unpredictable. He also shows the importance of family bonds while describing that her son stayed with her till the end of the journey even with her constant screaming. Similarly, Elie Wiesel supported his father by giving him his ration of food or getting him water when his father got beatings and was very weak. Additionally, Elie describes how Idek “began to beat him with an iron bar. At first, my father crouched under the blows, then he broke in two, like a dry tree by lightning and collapsed.” (Wiesel 52) When it was over, Elie was angry because his father did not try to avoid the beating. The author uses a simile to compare Shlomo Wiesel, Elie’s father to a dry tree. This shows how vulnerable he was to the beating and the effect it had on him. Also, silence was a symbol in Night, used to describe the suffering, fear, and weakness of the Jewish population. Elie Wiesel remained silent during this incident because he was afraid of getting a beating along with his father. The author uses simile and Symbolism for that statement because it shows the significance of the inhumane treatment at concentration camps. In Night there are many situations where the Jews remain silent when someone is being beaten or killed because fear takes control of their minds as they are fighting for their lives.
In Night many memories are created, and they are described using metaphors to ensure that history does not repeat itself. For instance, Elie Weisel described the last train ride as “Pressed up against the others to keep out the cold, head empty and heavy at the same time, brain a whirlpool of decaying memories. Indifference deadened the spirit.” (Wiesel 93) This outlines the dehumanization that the Jewish community has been through at the concentration camps. The author compares their minds to a whirlpool of memories using metaphorical figures. This describes the Jews after being in concentration camps and treated like animals, it shows how they feel when they have almost no hope. The quote also supports the theme that memories fade, but the pain remains when it is said that “Indifference deadened the heart” saying that it will always be a part of them. Similarly, Elie finishes Night with a statement that said “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.” (Wiesel 109) This was the last sentence of Night that Elie Wiesel used to describe his life through the Holocaust using metaphor because he compared his life to a corpse. He is saying that it was still his body, but it didn’t belong to him anymore because of all the pain he endured and the loved ones he lost. In a way, he was broken because he came face to face with death and witnessed the murder of innocent men and children. This event has changed him forever creating memories that can never be forgotten.
In conclusion, the author utilized foreshadowing, metaphor, symbolism, imagery, and allusion to present the inhumane treatment and dehumanization through the holocaust. The author established these literary devices in Night to set out the cruel and harsh actions used against the Jewish community, to assure that history does not repeat itself and provide a clear description of what happened. Wiesel demonstrated how faith was lost, painful memories were created, and the value of family in his memoir. This book tells the story of Elie and Shlomo Wiesel through the concentration camps where their innocence is left behind and is haunted by death and violence.
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