The Night Essay, Research Paper
In the book The Night, written by Elie Wiesel, a quote that made me realize the horror people went through in the Holocaust was, “For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me I heard a man asking: Where is God now?”
Besides the brilliant descriptions found in Night and the feeling that I was walking in Elie’s shoes, The Night opens a person s mind to the atrocities of the Holocaust and concentration camps. We take for granted, today, our knowledge of how many Jews were killed by the Nazis. Although we have a general idea of the kind of life people led in the concentration camps, people never really stop to think about what it must have felt like not knowing what was going on or what was going to happen next. Throughout the book, Wiesel talks about people not realizing what happened. He shows the reaction of the townspeople when they first heard of Hitler and German troops. I did not realize how much effect the book had on me until I noticed how much life has changed for Wiesel and the rest of the Jews and how unexpected this change was. The book shows the progression of an innocent twelve year old boy whose life was devoted to studying the Torah and was changed to a life of terror. The book also shows how the German forces were so harsh at breaking the spirits of the Jews.
Elie’s faith in God, above all other things, is strong at the beginning of the novel, but grows weaker as time goes on. On the day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, thousands of men came to attend services. Thousands of voices repeated, “Blessed be the Name of the Eternal!” Elie thought, “Why, but why should I bless Him? Because he had thousands of children burned in his pits?… How could I say to Him: “Blessed art thou, Eternal, Master of the Universe, Who chose us from among the races to be tortured day and night? Praised be Thy Holy Name, Thou Who hast chosen us to be butchered on Thine altar?” These statements showed Elie s lack of faith and made me
realize what he went through.
Many instances throughout this novel show how those in the concentration camps had to have faith and be strong. In order to survive, this was a necessity. Every week in Buna there was a selection process. The weak were sent to the ovens and the strong continued on. A friend of Elie’s did not pass the selection one week and all he asked as he walked away was that they promise that in three days when they saw the smoke rising, they would think of him. Yet three days came and three days passed and no one recited the Kaddish.
Unlike many books written on the Holocaust that may just list facts or jump around from person to person, The Night is written in a first person narration form. Not only did I feel like I was everywhere with Elie, but also I knew every thought that ran through his head. Although, at times, it is a very terrifying book to read, it is also very valuable. This biography left me with a message to never forget and never let it happen again.