Night By Elie Wiesel: What It Means To Be Human

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As a humanity we get questioned on what it is to be human, making it one of the most important questions. We tend to complain that life is hard, life is not fair, and being a human is unsatisfactory. We are only given a certain amount of time in a day that we as humans tend to make a day as productive and positive it can be, but have we ever stopped to think of what our existence meant.

Elie Wiesel is a great example of what it really means to be human and how hard situations define and build our character. Being human means having a background, language, faith, goals, a life in general, freedom, and lastly having a name that identifies you as a human. Elie was a young boy who had a strong faith, loved to read the Kabbalah. He had a really good childhood until Germans began to invade their life and privacy. Jews were asked to wear the star of David, “Three days later, a new decree: every Jew had to wear the yellow star”. Even though this treatment doesn’t sound horrendous it’s the beginning of what Elie characterized to be human. Hope is defined as the feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Night, is a novel set during the Holocaust, showing the horrendous treatment he, along with million other Jews, lived during World War II by the Nazis. Jews were restricted freedom in concentration camps, which were massive areas of land where Jews and others would undergo constant misbehavior. Jews suffered from great malnutrition, poor sanitation, and other awful living conditions. “ Our clothes were to be thrown on the floor at the back of the barrack. There was a pile there already. New suits, old ones, torn overcoats, rags. For us it meant true equality: nakedness. We trembled in the cold”. Elie and his father suffer so much malnutrition as well as other jews, they would have one ration of bread and one bowl of soup. “Too late to save your old father… You could have two rations of soup…” this quote hits base on malnutrition all the Jews faced because, as Elie’s father was dying Elie began to feel selfish he wanted more food instead of giving his own father some food. These real life events show how the mistreatment was tremendously bad that Jews began to get selfish with their own families. Many Jews were sent to die, in huge numbers, when their skills were deemed insufficient. “Take care of your son. He is very weak, very dehydrated. Take care of yourselves, you must avoid selection. Eat! Anything, anytime. Eat all you can. The weak don’t last very long around here…”.

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As humans we tend to work and strive to be the best in everything we can, we expect to hear good job you tried your best that’s what matters, keep going, you are enough. Think of present day today, you are working hard, feel tired, take a break, and then be told you’re not enough of to the crematory you go because you are worthless. Methods of killing included cremation, hanging, gunfire, and ultimately gas chambers. Other causes of death included starvation and disease. Elie was transferred to many different camps and made it out alive not by questioning, but by mostly doing as told. The Holocaust climax with the genocide of over six million Jews as well as many others. Those who survived the horrendous lives in those camp were typically left with no money, no family, and no place to go. “The only thing that keeps me alive, . . is to know that Reizel and the little ones are still alive. Were it not for them. I would give up”.

Family to me is the most important thing is were i feel safe, comfortable, loved, and most importantly home. As i read this quote it really hit me because reading how a father and husband relayed to keep going and fighting for his family who was already dead is shocking because a barbed wire area left incompetent to defend and fight for his family. Night does not offer hope because of Elie’s great loss of faith in his religion, this changes in what the Jews considered important in life, and the discomfort and feeling of emptiness that still consumes Elie even to this day. Elie was different than the other Jewish teenagers that surrounded him. His curiosity and belief in Judaism was much stronger. Therefore, God was a major part of his life. As the Nazi’s evil deeds on the Jews kept expanding, however, his religious beliefs started to diminish little by little. I don’t judge Ellie for the lack of faith, because thinking of being in his shoes and seeing my family being pulled away from me and knowing I won’t see them ever again, seeing how I’m treated for being me, and having such love for god and just seeing how he doesn’t do anything to save me from that camp will not only make me lose my faith in an instant but probably hold a sense of hate toward god. The most important example of this change in faith occurred as Elie and other Jews witnessed a public hanging, where an innocent child slowly choked to his death as he was too light for the rope that strangled him. “But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing… And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him close range. He was still alive when i passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished”. Elie listened to those around him wishing for God to rise and could no longer keep quiet of what he felt to himself, stating that God is “hanging here from this gallows”. At that point, God was dead in Elie’s eyes; all his hope was lost in the gallows. Other Jews experienced an even stronger abandonment of God.

Perhaps the worst of all remarks came from an impersonal, cold man who happened to cross paths with Elie. Arguing about Hitler’s true reasons, the faceless man admitted that Hitler, not God, was the true prophet, for he had not failed thus far in abolishing the Jewish race. While Elie was puzzle by the man’s cruel words, he said no more for he had lost all faith and had nothing more to say.

Elie had become incompetent of believing that God would intercede and put an end to Hitler’s genocide, as that sort of belief would require hope, something he sadly lacked. Priorities and ideas can change greatly depending on the environment we are in; this was especially true for the Jews during the Holocaust. As I got to read about the true events of what the Jews experienced it completely changed my mind on what it meant to be human. Elie showcased an extraordinary way of what it meant to be human. What Elie went through with the rest of the Jews made me realize that being human is valuing what we have, what we are, and what we will be because in instant you can lose it all. Elie went into the camp scared, afraid, weak, but as he was freed he was stronger not physically but emotionally and mentally because he left that camp alone with nothing but hoping for the best. Therefore i think being human means being the best you can be valuing what you have and always hoping for the best. What does being human mean to you?

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