Elie Wiesel is a well known American author of Jewish origin and a Nobel Prize winner. His novel called “Night” is a significant and meaningful work that carries multiple functions. Apart from being an outstanding literary masterpiece, the book has a historical character because it is a reflection of Elie Wiesel’s tragic and unusual biography. The author is one of the few living witnesses of the horrors that were happening to Jewish people during the Second World War. Wiesel and his whole family were taken away from home and put into concentration camps in Germany.
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The reader of the novel gets to follow the horrifying chain of events and experiences the boy and his father called Shlomo have to go through. “Night” is one of the novels that make the readers experience a mixture of fear and denial because the mind of a normal human being usually refuses to believe that all of the events described in the book happened in real.
In the beginning of the book Eliezer is portrayed as a religious Jewish boy, quiet and pure. The author writes, “I was almost thirteen and deeply observant. By day I studied Talmud and by night I would run to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple” (Wiesel, 3). At the same time his father is described as a “rather unsentimental” man (Wiesel, 4). The events at Birkenau turned both of these people into the opposites of what they used to be.
From the start of their tragic ordeals, Eliezer and Shlomo always keep together, holding hands, talking and supporting each other physically and emotionally. Their biggest fear is to lose each other and remain alone. They observe the chimney and the flames of the crematorium, the only way out of Auschwitz, thinking “could this be just a nightmare? An unimaginable nightmare?” (Wiesel, 31). Under the pressure of constant physical and emotional torture, Shlomo starts to show emotions, he is constantly sad and weeping, unwilling to even imagine that he might have to see his son die. At the same time, Eliezer seems shocked by the events, this is why his reaction is denial, he refuses to believe that humans are able to be that cruel. The author swears to never forget the flames of crematorium that burnt his childhood, turned his dreams into ashes, killed his God and his desire to live.
After several months of survival and painful struggling in the camp, Eliezer gradually loses his humanity, stops having emotions. He is no longer sorry, or scared. He is exhausted and hungry. His love towards father gradually fades away together with his faith in God. Shlomo breaks down much sooner than his son, he ages quickly and turns into a scared crying man, seriously ill and slowly dying. Over time, Eliezer finds himself not even thinking about his father, while earlier he used to be the boy’s main concern. Old and sick Shlomo ends up beaten to death by an SS officer, while Eliezer is right next to him doing nothing about it because he is too afraid for his own life.
Elie Wiesel’s novel demonstrates the human parts of our nature, all of which were taken away from Eliezer in the camp. Love he felt towards his father was very strong, but it also was only human. It evaporated when the boy was reduced to the very basic level of existence, where all the feelings were dictated by his exhausted, aching and starved body desperately struggling to stay alive.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. Trans. Marion Wiesel. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print.
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