Night Essay, Research Paper
Night by Elie Wiesel is a memoir of the author’s experiences during the Holocaust, as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps. Although the book to the naked eye seems to simply by another horrific depiction of life in Nazi concentration camps, it was not only written to show the horrible truths about the Jewish experience during this time. It was also a window to the emotional trauma experienced by this people. During the course of this book Eliezer has many of his basic beliefs challenged and questioned, mainly his faith in God and his fellow man. After this horrific experience comes to an end Eliezer finds himself completely changed. “The Holocaust forever shakes his faith in God and the world around him, and he sees the depths of cruelty and selfishness to which any human being including himself can sink.”
In the beginning of the book, Eliezer’s faith in god is quiet strong, as he spends every evening studying and learning more about his faith. While studying Eliezer learns that “God’s divinity is reflected in everything around us”, and through his divinity God effects everything on earth, “thus this benevolent, omnipotent being is everywhere and Eliezer’s faith in him is unconditional.” “When Eliezer asks Moshe the Beadle ‘why do you pray’ Moshe replies ‘I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask him the right questions.’” This sentence is echoed throughout the book while Eliezer struggles with his faith showing that faith is not based on answers, but questions.
Eliezer begins to question his faith while in captivity in the Nazi concentration camps. After seeing so much inhumanity and death, he begins to seriously question this benevolent and loving God. How could God let this happen? Why would God allow his people to suffer this way? These and many more questions are brought to light because of this horrific experience. Throughout the story there is this question of “Where is God”, indeed I believe many people ask this question in times of hardship and pain. And as alluded to in the reading questioning is fundamental to the idea of faith in God. While Eliezer’s faith is shaken it is not however completely destroyed. It is true we do see him struggling with his faith at times for example “during the hanging of Piple and during his first night in the camp.” But the very fact that he asks the questions reflects his commitment to God and his beliefs. Even at his lowest points in faith when it seems that he has turned his back on God, he still prays to God help him be strong for he fears he will abandon his father and “after the death of his father, he expresses regret that there was no religious memorial.”
Night focuses greatly on “Eliezer’s struggle with his faith. Eliezer discusses this struggle in terms of his loss of faith in God, but really it is a loss in faith in everything around him.” After all this trauma nothing in life makes since and his “disillusionment is the result of his painful experience with Nazi persecution, but it is also the result of the cruelty he sees fellow prisoners inflict upon each other as well as the cruelty of which he himself is capable.”
Eliezer’s first taste of this cruelty is experienced at the hands of the Nazis, but is seen furthermore when he witnesses the way the prisoners treat each other. “Instead of comforting each other” in their times of need, they turn on each other. When Eliezer sees sons killing their own fathers he is at first appalled, but then worries that he himself will begin to feel this way towards his father, thus allowing him to see the cruelty which he posses as well. “When Eliezer’s father dies, Eliezer is deeply troubled at the sense of relief he feels” stating “And, in the depths of my being…I found something like – free at last!” Thus personifying Wiesel’s theme of man’s inhumanity to man shown many other times throughout the book.
This book was very much an eye opener, in that it showed me humanity in its most animalistic form. Wiesel’s depiction of the events in hiss life were so well written that I the reader felt as if I was running along with him in the middle of the night forty two miles in the blistering snow. It shows one the side of human nature that does not get dealt with enough, in that many people like to act as if it does not exist instead of facing the harsh reality and attempting to deal with it. Throughout this book there are so many different themes to look at, that it can be read many times from many angles and see a different theme each time.
This book was amazing, captivating, and horrifying all at the same time. To say I learned only one thing from this book would be quite an understatement but a quote that seemed to stick in my head after finishing the book was this: “Man questions God and God answers…” but “You will find the true answers…only within yourself!” Although it was at the beginning of the book these couple of lines stuck in my mind throughout the course of this book. Thus giving me insight into where I may need to being my search for questions I have which are not too far from that of Eliezer’s.