Elie Wiesel: A Survivor Of The Holocaust Essay, Research Paper
Elie Wiesel wrote in a mystical and existentialistic manner to depict his life as a victim of the holocaust in his many novels. Such selections as ?Night? and ?The Trial of God? reveal the horrors of the concentration camps and Wiesel’s true thoughts of the years of hell that he encountered. This hell that Wiesel wrote about was released later in his life due to his shock, sadness, and disbelief. Elie Wiesel spoke in third person when writing his stories. Unlike other Holocaust stories, Wiesel gave not only the facts but also the horrific and realistic feelings of a victim in the camps. All of Elie Wiesel?s novels were based on his life.
At the age of 15, Eliezer Wiesel and his family were placed into concentration camps in Auschwitz. Wiesel accompanied his family for most of the time in the camps. He parted from his mother and sister Tzipora early in life and lived with his father during the years of the Holocaust. During his time in the concentration camps, Wiesel endured tons of pain. When he first reached the concentration camp Eliezer Wiesel witnessed the most disturbing thing. Tons of babies were being thrown into the air and shot to death. ?As they marched closer and closer to the ditch, Eliezer decided that rather then let himself be thrown into the fire, he would try to break away and throw himself against the electrified fence that surrounded the camp.? (Pariser 23) It was at
that point that Elie and his father knew that they were going to experience the worst years of their life. On April 11, 1945, the two were free from the concentration camp. He was silent for many years and chose not to speak of his suffering. Eventually he spoke and made a pact that he would never be silent again. Eliezer Wiesel stated, “And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.? (Pariser 40) And Mr. Wiesel wasn?t.
Among those novels that Wiesel wrote, the one that captured the most attention was Night. Night was one of Eliezer Wiesel?s greatest novels. Night is the true story of his experiences in the concentration camps. Some of the main characters in Night were real people in Wiesel?s life. Wiesel is called by his first name Elie in this story. In the beginning of the story, Elie speaks of his Jewish mysticism teacher Moshe the Beadle who is a poor Jew in the town of Sighet. Moshe plays an important role on Elie Wiesel?s life. Everything that Moshe teaches young Elie represents the faith and beliefs that he used to have in the Jewish religion. Elie?s father Chlomo is highly looked upon in the Jewish community of Sighet and by his son. Together, Elie and his father try to survive the horrors of the concentration camps. Night takes place during World War 2 (1941-1945) in a little town in Transylvania called Sighet. Elie and his father travel through several different concentration camps during the story: Auschwitz, Berkenau, Buna, Gleiwitz, and Buchenwald. The main conflict in Night is Elie?s struggle for survival in the concentration camps and his struggle for his father to survive with him. Several different themes present themselves in this story. The biggest theme is the relationship between father and son. The book follows both Elie and his father?s imprisonments
within the Concentration camps. Another theme is man?s relationship with God. Elie contemplates the existence of God quite frequently throughout the novel especially in the quote,
?Yes, man is very strong, greater than God. When You were deceived by Adam and Eve, You drove them out of Paradise. When Noah?s generation displeased You, You brought down the Flood. When Sodom no longer found favor in Your eyes, You made the sky rain down fire and sulfur. But these men here, who You have betrayed, who You have allowed to be tortured, butchered, gassed, burned, what do they do? They pray before You! They praise Your name!? (Wiesel 64)
In this quote, little Elie does not understand why God helped the Jews in previous situations but not when they needed Him the most. Silence is also an important theme. Elie and his father realized that silence was the only way to survive. Another entity that was silent was God. God had done nothing to help the Jews. The events that occurred in the holocaust were so horrible that people remained silent for many years after the war.
Wiesel’s writing style makes his novels, a mixture of biography and fiction, interesting to read to anyone that picks up his books. The stories themselves, however, are often obscure and stubbornly depressing. The narrator of his novels (himself) refuses to admit any happiness to his life, even when it is quite possible to do so. The books that Elie Wiesel wrote were very easy to picture because of how articulate his writing style was. The story line went from one event to the next. ?Through his fiction,
prose poems, essays, and dramas, he has attempted to reconcile the evil of Nazi
Germany and the apparent indifference of God, thereby reaffirming his life and faith.? (Marowski 449) Most of Elie Wiesel?s novels were written in a lyrical and impressionistic prose style. His novels are said to ?explore fate and the effect of the Holocaust upon present experience?. (Marowski 550) The characters in his novels represent people in his own life.
Elie Wiesel wrote in an existentialistic and individualistic fashion when writing his novels. Existentialism is the 20th century philosophical idea that embraces diversity but concentrates on individual existence and of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for the trouble they are forced into Most of the time the because of the lack of knowledge one has about the future. Also in existentialism, just so one survives…one may abandon their loved ones. For example, in Night, Elie represents a sort of existentialistic way of life by abandoning his father in order to survive in the end. In the beginning of the novel, it becomes very apparent that Elie and his father have no idea what lies ahead but unfortunately they are both forced into the terror of the concentration camps. In Night the young boy is told this: ?Listen to me, boy. Don?t forget that you?re in a concentration camp. Here, every man has to fight for himself and no think of anyone else. Even of his father.? (Wiesel 105) This quote represents the existentialist ideal that in assuring one?s own survival, one may have to betray their friends and family. The main characteristics of individualism is the basic idea that individual human life is the ultimate value or the standard value, otherwise put, one is in it for himself. This ideal is very similar to one of an existentialistic point of view. An
Premacexample of this is in Night, Eliezer begins to want to live by his own values and morals
when he realizes that his father might be on the verge of death. He contemplates whether he should be there for his father or give up. He has taken an individualistic approach to the matter. ?Don?t let me find him! If only I could rid of this dead weight, so that I could use all my strength to struggle for my own survival, and only worry about myself.? (Wiesel 101) Should he worry about his life or his fathers?
In another literature document by Wiesel, ?The Trial of God? (a short play) displays a different fashion of his writing known as mysticism. ?Mysticism is the non judgmental reproof of villains, mercy on people who do good, honesty, uncompromising compassion for those in pain, concentration on the good in villains, mercy toward all, and understanding of other human beings.? (Schuman 34) An example of this is in ?The Trial of God? where a group of friends come upon an understanding of friendship and concern on the validity of God?s word. They put God on trial and ask him where he was during the Jew?s greatest hour of need. Berish says, “God?? ?Don?t you think its His business as well? Don?t you think that whether you pray or not is also His concern?? says Mendel. Berish replies angrily, “Don’t you think He can handle his own affairs? Do you think He needs you to represent Him?? Maria then says. (Wiesel 53) These series of conversation represent the understanding and the respect that the groups of friends have for one another. Also denial and forgiveness are both shown within this dialogue.
Mr. Wiesel’s goal in his writings has mainly been to educate others on the horrows of the Holocaust and of Jews around the world. Through the relating of his own experiences, he hopes to make people aware of the injustice going on around them,
therefore preventing what happened during World War II from occuring again. In 1986, Elie Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in improving the living conditions, and promoting the understanding and global acceptance of Jews. For this same reason, Mr. Wiesel was presented with an Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1992. Elie Wiesel changed America?s view of the Holocaust for good. No longer were publishers as hesitant to take on this tale that depicted humanity at worst. In fact, it is said that some credit Night as the book that altered the attitudes of people in America about the Holocaust.
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