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Loss of Faith in Night by Elie Wiesel

One of the main themes of Wiesel’s ‘Night’ is faith in God. Throughout the book the faith of the narrator, Eliezer, undergoes many assaults. In the beginning we see his ‘totalistic and zealous commitment to God’, as Downing describes his state of faith (62). Eliezer grew up believing, that everything in this world is emanation of God, who possesses both goodness and omnipotence, and there is a spark of God’s light in every human’s soul. So, he lived in a good world, ruled by good God. He did… till one day his habitual life ceased to exist. He faces the Holocaust, and it turns all his life and his beliefs upside down.

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That is when he begins first to ask God different questions, then to question the very existence of God. Facing sufferings often becomes a crucial point, at which a person decides, whether to continue believing in God or not. This was also true with Eliezer. This was always true – even the Bible, filled with the stories of various men and women of faith, depicts their doubt, their spiritual struggles, and sometimes their indignation with God. So did Job, so did this little boy, Eliezer.

Probably, the turning point for Eliezer was, when he saw a boy, dying slowly, hanging on gallows. Wiesel, in this scene, shows discouragement and loss of believe of many people: ‘Behind me, I heard the same man asking: Where is God now? And I heard a voice within me answer him:… Here He is – He is hanging here on this gallows’ (Wiesel 72).

Eliezer called those moments as moments, that murdered his God, his soul and turned his dreams to dust (Wiesel 43). He could not bless God’s name, he could not plead God for anything anymore. Every fiber in him rebelled, when hearing anything about God or watching somebody worshiping God (Wiesel 74). He became the accuser, God the accused (Wiesel 10).

But in spite of that, in the following chapters we see constant emersion of his faith: ‘And, in spite of myself, a prayer rose in my heart, to that God in whom I no longer believed. My God, Lord of the Universe, give me strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahou’s son has done’ (Wiesel 97). He claims, that his God is dead, but at the same time he adds: ‘Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself’, assuming that God exists (Wiesel 43).

As Job, a character from the Bible, he thought, that God had put him into darkness, but, as notices Bloom, ‘questions remain concerning … whether the leading into darkness is indeed the end’ (60). For Job it became a new starting point, a thrust to a better understanding of God. Night seems to be the end of something. The author himself says the following about his book: ‘In Night … I wanted to show the end, the finality of the event. Everything came to an end – man, history, literature, religion, God. There was nothing left. And yet we begin again with night’ (qtd. in Bloom 66).

‘Night’ is the first book of a trilogy by Wiesel, called ‘Night, Dawn and Day’, so we can see a little hint, that light will return again, that there is some hope left. All spiritual wonderings and warfare of the main character will end up with Eliezer’s better comprehension of God, as someone, who is not easy to grasp, and he never will be.

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Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Elie Wiesel’s Night, New York City, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print.

Downing, Frederick L.. Elie Wiesel: A Religious Biography, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2008. Print.

Wiesel, Elie. Night ; Dawn ; Day, Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Aronson, 1985. Print.

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