Night (A Book Report) “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?” The suffering of this child being hanged is comparable to the suffering endured by many Jews during the holocaust. This quotation is found in just one of many heart wrenching scenes found in Night, a biography of the holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel.
Wiesel stayed quiet about the holocaust for ten years and his reasoning for this was, “I didn’t want to use the wrong words. I was afraid the words might betray it.” This also may account for the fact that some of the sentences found in Night are very wordy and often are overwhelming to the reader because of the amount of significance found in each. This flaw, though, is very forgivable under the circumstances. Besides for the brilliant descriptions found in Night and the feeling that you were walking in Elie’s shoes, if he literally had any, Night opens the readers mind to the atrocities of the holocaust and concentration camps. We take for granted, today, our knowledge of knowing how many Jews were killed by the Nazi’s and having 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. Wiesel illustrates this very clearly at the beginning of his autobiography. He shows the reaction of the townspeople when they first heard of Hitler and German troops and the optimistic approach they ecided to take on life. This technique of taking the reader to life before the ghettos and the concentration camps is very interesting and unique. Before reaching about the middle of the novel, the beginning may not really be appreciated.
The reader probably will not realize how much greater the effect is on him/her until he/she notices how much life has changed for Wiesel and the rest of the Jews and how unexpected this change was. Night shows the progression of an innocent twelve year old boy who’s days were composed of studying the Talmud turn into a “corpse.” The German forces are so adept at breaking the spirits of the Jews that we can see the effects throughout the novel. Elie’s faith in God, above all other things, is strong at the onset 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!” Eliezer 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?” Many instances throughout this novel show how desensitized people became in the concentration camps.
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, “In three days.. say the Kaddish for me.” They promised that in three days when they saw the smoke rising they would think of him but three days came and three days passed and no one recited the Kaddish.
At one point in the novel the camp that Elie and his father were residing in was forced to transfer to Gleiwitz. It was painfully cold weather and “the snow fell relentlessly.” A scene that secured itself in Elie’s memory is that of Rabbi Eliahou running beside his son when he begins to grow tired and slowly starts to fall behind. His son pretends not to even see what is happening to his father and keeps on running. Elie makes a promise to himself that he will always be there for his father, even if it is the cause of his death. Later in the novel, though, it gets harder and harder for Elie to keep this promise, especially when his father becomes very ill. Unlike many books written on the holocaust that may just list facts or jump around from person to person, Night is written in a first person narration form.
The reader not only goes everywhere with Eliezer but also knows every thought that runs through his head. Although, at times, it is a very terrifying book to read, it is also very valuable. This biography leaves the reader with an “unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.”.