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Discussion of the book "Night" by Elie Wiesel

Updated on May 4, 2009
Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel

 The town Sighet, located in northern Romania, Transylvania, is the initial location of this story of one Holocaust survivor.  This book, "Night" by Elie Wiesel, is an autobiography of this young Jewish male.  To say that he is Jewish is not redundant because although the Jews were the biggest target of the Nazis and the major percentage of the population of these concentration camps were Jews, there were also many other religions and nationalities that shared these camps with the Jews.

Elie Wiesel very graphically describes the experience of the takeover of his town by the Nazis.  This story is particularly unique, due to the fact that among all of the published stories regarding the Holocaust and the concentration camp, there are not many that focus on a town that actually had years of warning, prior to actually being brought into custody by the SS.

A man named Moche the Beadle had lived peacefully and was considered a likable man in the town of Sighet.  This man was a foreign Jew.  One day all of the foreign Jews were carted away like cattle.  The Jewish townsfolk did not put an extreme amount of importance on this event and were completely ignorant as to what was actually happening to these Jews.

Miraculously, this same man who had been the main character's spiritual advisor and who also had been carted off in the trains, escaped and returned to Sighet to warn everyone there of what had happened.  None of his foreign comrades had survived.  He had only escaped because he was wounded and believed to be dead by the German Nazi soldiers who were using his friends and their babies as target practice.

Despite all of Moche the Beadle's warnings, the town did not believe what they did not want to believe.  They continued to place their faith in God that nothing so horrible could be true.  They most certainly were not willing to believe that such an event could possibly happen to them.

When the Nazis occupied their town and laws about when they were to leave their homes and what they were to wear began to be enforced under penalty of death, they still did not allow themselves to believe any of the old man's stories.  Up until the moment when they were themselves herded out of town like cattle, they refused to acknowledge the possibility that a man they had previously trusted might be telling the truth.

Several points stand out to me when I read this book.

One of the things that is widely talked about regarding this book is this young man's loss of faith in his God.  He was extremely devoted to his studies about God before the concentration camp.  However, after he experienced the horrible atrocities that many to this day still refuse to believe ever actually happened, he became God's accuser, rather than His devotee.

I read another book review for this book, "Night," and was amazed by the attitude of that reviewer.  They noted their disappointment in Elie Wiesel for focusing entirely on the atrocities and the loss of faith experienced.  To this review I say, "Wow!  How callous can you possibly be?"  This is an autobiography.  Should Mr. Wiesel have added some flowers and rainbows so that you can go to sleep resting comfortably in your belief that God is good and loving and omnipotent?

I believe that Elie Wiesel speaks specifically to this kind of apathetic ignorance when he talks about the attitudes of his very town full of people who did not want to admit or see the ugliness of the truth.  Turn a blind eye to the evils so that you may have the fullest amount of faith in your God.  That is the easier way to live.  How dare Mr. Wiesel, who watched his entire family torn apart, who watched his father die, whose entire life was changed and his faith in God shattered, how dare he not bring forth a point of hope and a silver lining while describing how he watched a young child take 30 minutes to die with a rope around her neck, this being only one of the countless moments of repulsive inhumanity.

That he survived, should he be grateful to God?  Should he be glad that God finally took to heaven his brethren in the faith?  Should he be happier that when they died they were in a "better place?"

Which brings me to another point that for some reason particularly stood out to me when reading Mr. Wiesel's book.  For whatever reason, I had never really concentrated on the fact that all of these concentration camp victims had such an amazing will to live that they continued to march and work and endure through the utmost of horrible conditions, when they could easily have just stepped out of line or fallen down and given up on life, rather than live for years under amazingly extreme duress.

How many have committed suicide through the years due to frustrations, fears and reasons just as simple as a lack of interest in life.  This, therefore, brings the question up, Why were these Jews so committed to life?

Was it their unstoppable faith that this would eventually end, that God would come through in the end and that they had to continue to defeat the Evil One?  Was it just for the belief in that silver lining?  What kind of life did they believe they would have after this was all over?  Did they think that they could live happily when all was said and done, simply glad to have survived?  Was their faith in God so strong that they felt without a doubt that he would make it so?

To all of those concepts and possibilities, all I can say is, "Wow."  Was it their faith that kept them in suffering in these concentration camps for these years being treated as worse than dogs are treated by abusive masters?  Then, was their faith beneficial?  What was gained by such faith?

So many thoughts are brought to the forefront of one's mind who reads and deliberates on this true story of a young man's struggle to survive during the Holocaust.




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      niculina archer 6 years ago

      we think these days that we have it bad...that we suffer everyday.....yes we do...but it makes earth look like heaven compared to what these poor people had to try not eating for weeks....skinning bones..having to do hard labor why weak..think about that as you try to go to sleep tonight..i wish i could meet some of these people...Iam so interested n this stuff

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      noname 6 years ago

      this is a great book!!! it shows a lot of senses that can be decifried by the protagonist's feelings

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      Tierra M. 6 years ago

      I stronly belive that what went on in Mr.Elie Wiesel life was more than living hell. This book has really touch my heart in so many ways.

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      lily 6 years ago

      no one can understand the pain and suffering if one has not gone throught something so tormenting.

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      Haley Kenyon  6 years ago

      I have read the book in an english class it was a very intense book to read. the way that eliezer wrote it really emotionally touched me. i don't like to read very ,uch but ths is one book i will always recommend.

    • Alexander Pease profile image

      Alexander Pease 6 years ago from Maine

      I simply think that to endure such hard times must have had a beat down on his psyche. In the end, he renewed his faith in God. He got out of the camp, but I think that at the end he detailed that he would never live the same life again.

    • Alicia Crowder profile image

      Alicia Crowder 7 years ago from Everywhere

      It's really difficult to comprehend at times why some people have read this and have thought that I was speaking badly about the author.

      Clearly the author went through much and I thought that in my piece, I made it clear how disgusting I thought it was that some would judge him harshly for his viewpoint on God after his direct experiences.

      It has been an interesting learning experience for sure to receive so many comments and notes elsewhere about this article, discovering the many different ways the thousands of readers of just this article alone have both thought of the book, the story and the ways they perceived what was written in the article above.

      I appreciate all the reads, notes and comments that have come thus far.

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      robin 7 years ago

      elizer book was a good book. he was just trying to tell everyone what he went thru with his family and all the other's. god bless him and all the holocaust survivors . and to all the one's who did not make it.i hoped they got those ss germansthat partisapated doing what they did to those people and hung them all. i can't still believe how they or anyone humab being could be so cold and evil. i hope they got all the ss and the other germans that did this to thejew's and others and torturedthem and did to them what they did to the jewish people. i can't believe some of the killers were living in the states. how did this happen, i read that they deported some but they were very old . what took so long

    • Alicia Crowder profile image

      Alicia Crowder 7 years ago from Everywhere

      Thank you all very much for reading my book review. This book is definitely one that will always be remembered.

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      Kay 7 years ago

      I feel the same way, and for someone to comment on the fact that there were too many tragedies mentioned in the book Night was unbelievable. He/she does not know what Eliezer, and everyone else went through at those concentration camps. We still do not know everything nor will we ever know. And i don't know how Eliezer even survived through all of that. He must be a very strong person who mostly relied on his faith. He is most definantly my hero, and so is everyone else that had to go through that, and lived to tell their story.

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      shaerra 7 years ago

      i love this book

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      Alicia 8 years ago

      Exactly the point dear sir! As the article reads, I found it grotesque that any would judge him for his take on the matter when they themselves had not been through such. I felt his work was incredible and made many valid and thought provoking points.

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      Chan 8 years ago

      how dare he? how dare you? u cant understand what he has been through if u haven't been throught it yourself.