Survival (On The Book Night) Essay, Research Paper
The book Night is about the holocaust as experienced by Elie Weisel from inside the concentration camps. During World War II millions of innocent Jews were taken from their homes to concentration camps, resulting in the deaths of 6 million people. There were many methods of survival for the prisoners of the holocaust during World War II. In the book Night, there were three main modes of survival, faith, family, and food. From the examples in the book Night, faith proved to be the most successful in helping people survive the holocaust.
While obtaining food seemed to be the entire purpose of life for the people imprisoned in the camps, it often killed more people than it saved. Though focusing on food seemed like a logical thing to do when you are being starved, it was not always very effective in helping people survive. There are many situations in the book illustrating how living for the sole purpose of acquiring food under any condition could turn out to be lethal.
Elie wrote of one time, during an air raid, when two half-full cauldrons of soup were left unguarded in a path. Despite their hunger, the prisoners were too frightened for their lives to even touch the cauldrons. One brave man dragged himself to the cauldrons intending to drink some of the forbidden soup. Before he could so much as take a small taste of the soup, he was shot, and he fell to the ground, dead. In Night, Elie recalled him as a Poor hero, committing suicide for a ration of soup (Weisel, 56).
Later in the story, there is yet another example of how food could kill. While the prisoners were in cattle cars, being moved to a different camp, a worker in one of the towns they passed through threw a piece of bread into one of the cars, and watched as they literally killed for just a mouthful. Through that experience, Elie witnessed a man kill his own father for a few meager crumbs of bread, only then to see that man be killed moments later for the same small portion of bread. Men threw themselves on top of each other, stamping on each other, tearing at each other. Wild beasts of prey, with animal hatred in their eyes; an extraordinary vitality had seized then, sharpening their teeth and nails (Weisel, 95). Clearly, food as a method survival wasn t a particularly effective way to stay alive. It tended to kill only those who used it as an attempt to stay alive. Fighting for food did not help save very many lives during the holocaust because it all wound down to simply being selfish, and caring only about yourself, though some people chose not to succumb to greed. Many people struggled for months or even years, to stay with their family, and to help each other through the holocaust.
Attempting to stay with family members proved only to become a huge burden in the end. Though good in theory, sticking together with family only formed unwanted dependencies and burdens, and often resulted in loss of faith, broken hearts, and death. During his time in the concentration camps, Elie saw many people give up on their families, Rabbi Eliahou and his son were one exmple. While running to s different camp, the Rabbi s son deliberately ran ahead of his father, in an attempt to lose him in the crowd. Elie knew that the Rabbi s son had seen his father limping toward the back of the column, but still continued forward, letting the distance between them grow. When Elie saw the Rabbi being abandoned by his own son, he swore he would never do that to his father. My God, Lord of he Universe, please give me strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahou s son has done (Weisel, 87).
Near the end of the book, Elie s father had grown very sick, and even though Elie knew that he was on the brink of death, he left his father s side. He woke up one morning, and went to his father s bed, but he was missing. While searching the whole camp for his dad, Elie silenlty prayed, Don t let me find him. If only I could get rid of this dead weight, so I could use all of my strength to fight for my own survival and only worry about myself (Weisel, 100). On January 29, when Elie learned that his father had died, his first thought was, Free at last (Weisel, 106).
Obviously, having to worry about family only resulted in dependencies, burdens, ruined relationships, and death. Although focusing on food or family didn t help save the lives of prisoners, having faith in humanity, their dreams for after the war, and above all, God, gave many people the strength and will to survive.
Keeping faith was generally a successful way to survive the holocaust. A lot of the people in the concentration camps stayed very faithful to God, and in Night those people survived more often than not. Despite the starvation and labor they had to endure, some people kept their faith in their religion very strong. At one point, a man named Akiba Drumer said, God is testing us, he wants to find out whether we can dominate our base instincts and kill the Satan within us. We have no right to despair, and if he punishes us relentlessly, it s a sign he loves us more (Weisel, 42). Although Elie s faith certainly wasn t as strong as Akiba s, it s what helped him live through the holocaust. The whole time he was in the camps, he continued to question God, but He did not answer, but he never completely lost faith, and the faith that stayed with him through the holocaust is what saved his life. Sometimes, the other ways of survival succeeded, having faith saved the most lives during the holocaust.
In Night, there were three primary methods of survival, and out of those three, faith was the most successful in keeping people alive. The prisoners who focused only on food often wound up being killed themselves, and those who tried to stay with their families often found it only a burden. However, those who struggled to retain the shattered remnants of their faith were most successful in outliving the holocaust. The holocaust that occurred during World War II was one of the darkest hours in the history of the world. Cultured people were turning to genocide; attempting to exterminate an entire religious group. The Jews, imprisoned in the camps fought for their lives for months, and in some cases, years. They were forced to turn to their instincts, often acting more like savages than the men that they were. Confronted by death, they had to make a decision: food, family, or faith. Some chose to fight for food, and some chose to stay with family. They later learned that those were the wrong decisions. The people that chose to stay faithful to God, and their own beliefs made up many of the people who later found themselves being liberated from the camps in 1945, leaving the others dead, behind them.