Elie Wiesel revealed his experience in the ghetto in his novel Night. He portrayed the horrors of the war years and the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. The author shares his thoughts and deepest emotions. The book is a very intimate confession of a person who tried to come to peace with oneself. Notably, one of the most expressive and symbolic parts of the book is one of the final passages. The episode with the mirror reveals the emptiness in the author’s heart. He lost a lot in the camp. He lost his father, his personality, the belief in humanity and humanness and, at the same time, he acquired hope.
It is possible to note that in two lines the author managed to resume the entire book and the entire experience of several thousands of people who had witnessed the horrors of the concentration camp: “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me” (Wiesel 109). Admittedly, these lines are very suggestive. Thus, some researchers state that the reflection the boy sees in the mirror (i.e. the corpse) is some kind of identification of the son with his father (Bloom 62). Horowitz is more precise as he states that in the reflection Wiesel sees another him (16).
It is necessary to note that there is another deeper meaning in the symbolic episode with the mirror. The author sees the corpse with no soul. Wiesel reveals his vision of an exhausted teenage old man who never had a childhood, who lost the belief in humanity and humanness. The writer saw lots of horrible things. He lost his father. He even lost himself. He lost his best qualities as sometimes he dreamt of getting rid of his own father (Wiesel 101). The corpse which the protagonist saw in the mirror was the creature which only strived for survival. This creature did not think of compassion, friendship, love, dignity, etc. The concentration camp swallowed all those good qualities and made a corpse out of a once lively child.
Notably, the author also hints that the mirror gave something very important to the protagonist who claims he would never forget the gaze of the corpse. This gaze which remained in the author’s memory helped the protagonist acquire hope. The boy who endured all the horrors of the concentration camp and was eventually saved could see that those wrongs could not last forever. The protagonist understood that the corpse could regain its human aspect.
On balance, it is possible to note that Wiesel’s Night is one of the most outstanding books which make people think of the essence of humanness. The author uses the episode with the mirror to show that even though the horrible past reshaped a boy, it could not take hope from him. Eventually, the hope helped the boy start a new life and write the book which is a warning to the entire humanity.
Bloom, Harold. Elie Wiesel’s Night. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2001. Print.
Horowitz, Rosemary. Elie Wiesel and the Art of Storytelling. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006. Print.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1982. Print.