Night Essay, Research Paper
In Elie Wiesel?s novel Night, the main character Elizer goes through a series of changes. Elizer, "Elie", is born in a town in Transylvania Hungary by the name of Sighet in 1928. Elie lives in a very highly orthodox Jewish family, and this shows in many of his personality traits and interest as a young man. Early on, Elie likes to study many Jewish texts. Before 1944, the Jews in Hungry were not affected by the terrible happenings in Europe. In 1933 Hitler came into power and blamed Germany?s problems on the Jews. Under his rule, Hitler and his administration created laws and worked to exterminate the Jews. As the war went on, Hitler developed a "Final Solution" which was an extermination of Europe?s Jews. The most Jews were killed in concentration camps where Jews were forced to do labor and live imprisoned. It was Elie?s struggle to survive as a teenager in a camp that changed his emotional maturity, his relationship with his father, and his faith in God and religion.
Because of the struggles Elie goes through, Elie loses his innocence and gains an incredible level of emotional maturity. Elie starts out as an innocent young boy full of interest, curiosity, and the potential for incredible success. He lives at first a seemingly nice and normal life with loving parents. Elie?s innocence can be seen when he is with his father after he has been separated from the rest of his family and he witnesses the cremation of babies and adults. He says, "Not far from us flames were leaping up from a ditch, gigantic flames?Babies! Yes, I saw it with my own eyes?I pinched my face. Was I still alive? Was I awake? I could not believe it. How could it be possible for them to burn people, children, and the world to keep silent? No, none of this could be true. It was a nightmare?(pg. 30)" This quote illustrates the naivety Elie has about the true cruelty and inhumanity that exist not only in some people but especially behind the Nazi forces under Hitler?s rule. The events are such an opposite extreme from what Elie knows to be the world; he cannot believe what his own eyes are showing him. Later on, because of the things Elie has witnessed, he grows up seemingly cold hearted and he himself seems to have lost some of his humanity. This new emotional state Elie is in can be seen when Elie awakes and sees that his father has been taken away to the crematory. He says, "I awoke January 29th at dawn?they must have taken [my father] away before dawn and carried him to the crematory. He may still have been breathing?I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I had no more tears. (Pg. 106)" This quote that shows Elie does not have the tears to cry for his father, who he had cared for and looked after through the most trying trials in his life, shows the incredible effect his journey has had on him. A person that looked on in horror and disbelief when he witnessed nameless children being burned has been through so much he seems emotionless that his own blood is suffering the same fate. His emotions have matured beyond the childlike naivety he once had.
Not only does Elie?s plight change his emotional maturity, but also it changes the relationship he has with his father. As Elie continues on his struggle through his adolescent life, his devotion to his father weakens and Elie begins to see him as a burden. Elie starts out with a good relationship with his father. As a respected leader, his father conveys a sense of tradition and pride that exist in Elie before going to the death camp. When he and his father are separated from the rest of the family, their blood at first stays strong and Elie does not disrespect his father. The two develop a deep bond and understanding illustrated when Elie looks for his father during Rosh Hashanah. Elie says, "I ran off to look for my father?He was standing near the wall, bowed down, his shoulders sagging as though beneath a heavy burden. I went up to him, took his hand and kissed it. A tear fell upon it. Whose was that tear? Mine? His? I said nothing. Nor did he. We had never understood one another so clearly. (Pg. 65)" This quote illustrates the bond that has developed strongly between Elie and his father in being through their horrific experiences together. Without saying a word they are able to convey one another?s feelings perfectly. As Elie and his father?s troubled times continue, Elie starts to see his father as a inconvenience. On the journey to Buchenwald, Elie?s attitude towards his father can be seen when he cannot find his father. Elie says, "It was daytime when I awoke. And then I remembered I had a father?I had known that he was at the end, on the brink of death, and yet I had abandoned him. I went out to look for him. But at the same moment this thought came into my mind: ?Don?s let me find him! If only I could get rid of this dead weight, so that I could use all of my strength to struggle for my own survival, and only worry about myself.? (Pg. 101)" Even though Elie feels ashamed after thinking this, it shows him being able to even think about that for a minute, the incredible relationship dynamic he and his father hold has changed. Before they could understand each other in a silent moment, now Elie is wishing he didn?t have to put up with the burden.
Elie?s struggle along with changing his relationship with his father also changes his view on his God and religion. Through Elie?s horrifying experiences in the Nazi death camp, Elie loses the diehard faith he had in his Jewish culture and in God. Elie starts off very committed to the study of Jewish culture and his belief in God. This faith and passion for his religion is seen early in a conversation with Elie and Moshe the Beadle about why Elie prays and why he cries when he does so. Elie says, "The question had never entered my head. I wept because?because of something inside me that felt the need for tears?Why did I pray? A strangle question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe? (Pg. 2)" This quote shows the blind faith and passion Elie has for God and his Jewish beliefs. His comparison of praying as something as fundamental as living or breathing truly shows how important God and religion is in his everyday life. Later, after Elie has gone through so much tremendous pain and suffering, his views and faith in his religion and god diminish. At summer?s end in 1944 during Rosh Hashanah, Elie?s changed view on God and religion can be seen. He feels he has no reason to bless God when his people are suffering so much. He feels his people are not the "chosen people" and denies his faith. Elie says, "What are You, my God, compared to this afflicted crowd, proclaiming You their faith, their anger, their revolt? What does your greatness mean Lord of the universe, in the face of all this weakness, this decomposition, and this decay? (Pg. 63)" He continues to say, "Why, but why should we bless him? In every fiber I rebelled. Because He had thousands of children burned in His pits? Because He kept six crematories working night and day, on Sundays and feast days? Because His great might He had created Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, and so many factories of death? (Pg. 64)" This quote shows the passion of hate and resentment he has gained for God because he has allowed Elie and his people to go through such hard times. He says and thinks these things in a very ridiculing way and it is obvious that passion for God does not exist anymore and has been replaced by hatred.
In conclusion, Elie is taken through several changes because of the extraordinary challenges he had to face in the Nazi death camp. Elie throughout his journey loses his innocence and gains a great deal of emotional maturity. Elie?s devotion for his father weakens as his time in the camp goes on. Elie also eventually loses almost all of his faith in God and in his religion. Elie?s life is an example of how people?s lives and views change when they are put through a traumatic course of events.