The Night Expository Essay
- Date:Jan 08, 2021
- Category:The Night
The Night is a narration by Eliezer in the teenage era. He was born in Hungarian Transylvania. The narration adopts both narration and memoir on his experiences during the era. Eliezer was religious, where he gained these virtues by learning the Torah and cabbala, which is a Jewish doctrine. His normal youthful years were disrupted by the holocaust. His family was forcibly moved to Birkenau. Here he and his father were separated from the rest of the family. They were held prisoner at Birkenau. Prisoners were treated with cruelty and inhumanity. The prisoners too lost their guard and slide into hostility. This created a chaotic setting. Eliezer and his father had each other, which was their survival measure. Unfortunately, Eliezer’s father dies at Gleiwitz out of dysentery and physical abuse. American army liberates the camp, leaving Eliezer an empty man. The night harbors a wide range of themes. This paper seeks to evaluate the chief themes in the story.
Family is one of the main themes outlined in the story. The setting of the family is disrupted by the holocaust. In the beginning, before the holocaust, family normally related, where they were in unity. Eliezer’s family was united until the forced journey to Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, the family was divided, with his mother and sister disappearing. This scene shapes the succeeding events in Eliezer’s life. It shaped his perception of humanity and his understanding of religion. At the prison, the captives stacked together with their family members. They derived their power and increased their chance of survival through family unity (Ginsburg 23-31). A good example is Eliezer and his father. The duo helped each other survive through the prison and the dangerous journeys to Gleiwitz. However, the Nazi’s cruelty corrupted the prisoners, where causing hostility between family members. This hostility is revealed to Eliezer by Kapo. He says, “Here there are no fathers, no brothers, no friends… “Everyone lives and dies for himself alone”(101). This demonstrates the effects of the holocaust on families. Not only were they separated, but hostility between family members also heightened.
The theme of religion is also prevalent across the book. This theme is introduced at the beginning, where Eliezer describes his Jewish teaching (Frunză 94). However, his learning is disrupted when his teacher is involved in a holocaust attack. From this instance, it is clear that religion is affected by the events of the holocaust. Eliezer demonstrates how his Jewish religion and his faith prevails through the harsh era. His faith is tried by the events at person sand his experience in the holocaust, through his lamentations, his belief that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and unconditional. The suffering of his fellow Jews in prison makes Eliezer question his beliefs. For instance, he points out that watching young children murdered was like watching his God killed. He demonstrates despair and doubts in religion. Another instance of despair in religion is when the Akiba Drummer gives up on religion and dies (54). Other prisoners are committed to observing religious practices such as observing religious holidays, but their faith was full of doubts. Despite the trying experiences in prison, Eliezer emerges with his faith intact. His questions and doubts were within the faith and not outside its jurisdiction. The theme of religion plays a significant role, where the holocaust is addressed in light of the victim’s religion.
Holocaust is the primary theme in the book. This theme harbors other minor themes like inhumanity, racism, and violence. The book outlines the effects of the holocaust on the Jews’ perspective. The German tortured and persecuted people of Jewish descent. They also used force to dominate over the Jews. In the book, the holocaust is demonstrated to have devastating effects. In the prisons, the prisoner endured hard labor with little food (Haft 19). This was accompanied by inhumane treatment by the German Nazis. For instance, the prisoner was murdered under the watch of their fellow prisoners. The Nazis did not discriminate against execution on the merits of age. Babies were thrown into flame in tuck loads (32). This demonstrates the violent aspect of the holocaust. Some of these details are only observed from a survivor’s perspective. Holocaust also imposed emotional distress on the members of Jewish descent. Families were separated during the Nazi invasion. Among such families was Eliezer’s family. Such people were forced to live with questions of whereabouts. Also, they endured the inhumane treatment of their family members. Eliezer watched the Nazis murder his father. Such extreme cruelty brought out the animosity among the prisoners, who entailed mostly of family members. Holocaust turned people into selfish beings, who only fought for their interests. Finally, the holocaust propagated racism. The rivalry triggering the violence was mainly founded on racial lines. The Germans were cruel against the Jews, which is demonstrated by inhumane treatment. As a result, the Jews questioned their purpose, culture, and even religion, as observed in the case of Eliezer (59). These effects accompanied the survivors of the whole event. Despite his freedom, Eliezer felt empty following what he had witnessed and gone through during the holocaust. Within its lapse, he had lost all his family members.
The theme of silence is also prevalent in the book. In the beginning, Eliezer observes the Jews’ reluctance to free despite warnings from Moshe and Sachachet (Frunză 99). This demonstrates the lack of voice among the Jewish people. Their ignorance contributes to the suffering of the Germans. Also, the element of silence is evident in Auschwitz and other camps (34). The Jews did not attempt to break free or react to Nazi inhumanity and cruelty. Any efforts to raise resistance were offset by the brutal murder of resisting members. The silence of God is the most significant silence in the story. The Jews, including Eliezer and other prisoners, were hopeful of God’s intervention. The aspect of God’s silence is evident in Eliezer’s questioning of his faith. He complained of praying and receiving no answer. The prisoners also questioned their faith due to God’s silence. This is evident during the murder of the young boy. One prisoner shouted, “where is God,” but all he got for a response was silence (68). The boy’s death is a reverse narration of Abraham and Isaac’s story. The boy’s death symbolized God’s silence, unlike in Isaac’s case, where an angel was sent down to his rescue. The theme of silence is also used to establish a minor theme of identity and faith in God. The aspect of identity is evident in Eliezer’s questioning of his religion and the position of his race. Faith in God is directly influenced by his silence. The prisoners are pushed into despair such that they do not know what to believe.
The book provides a detailed description of its setting and the events that unfolded during the holocaust. In exploring the impacts holocaust had on the lives of Jewish people, various themes are evident. They include the theme of family, holocaust, religion, and silence. Other minor themes evident in the book include violence, identity, racism, and faith in God. The story utilizes the characters and setting to effectively convey these themes.
Frunză, Sandu. “Ethics, religion, and memory in Elie Wiesel’s Night.” Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 9.26 (2010): 94-113.
Ginsburg, Fonda. Teaching 20 th century, Jewish American Literature: Community, family, and displacement. Diss. Roosevelt University, 2013: 23-31
Haft, Cynthia J. The theme of Nazi concentration camps in French literature. Vol. 12. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, 2018:14-25
Wiesel, Elie. Night. Vol. 55. Macmillan, 2006.