Elie Wiesel’s novel Night is being often referred to, as such that represents a high philosophical value (Fienberg 169). One of the reasons for this is that Wiesel succeeded in exposing the illusionary essence of people’s belief in God, as an omnipotent entity that is supposed to be taking care of them. In this paper, I will explore the validity of the earlier statement at length.
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Even though that the book’s main character Eliezer is being initially represented to readers as an individual with clearly defined religious leanings, as the plot unravels Eliezer cannot help becoming ever more suspicious of the fact that there is no loving God up in the sky. This simply could not be otherwise, because while exposed to the horrors of the Holocaust, Eliezer was becoming increasingly aware that it does not make any sense believing in the presumably ‘all-loving’ God, who nevertheless is capable of turning a blind eye on his ‘chosen people’ (Gorsky 140). Hence, the novel’s main motif is the following: “God is dead… vanished forever into the smoke of the human holocaust” (Wiesel 5). Nevertheless, it took Eliezer some time to come to such a conclusion. For example, even after having witnessed the Nazis’ brutality against Jews, while he was being transported to Auschwitz, Eliezer was still trying to hold on to his faith in God, as it helped him to continue believing that justice will eventually triumph. Nevertheless, it did not take the novel’s main character too long to begin realizing the sheer elusiveness of such belief of his. At first, Eliezer considered the possibility that God simply failed to live up to his ‘godly’ duty of protecting Jews, as the people that he favored above others.
This is the reason why, throughout the book’s middle section, Eliezer is often shown expressing his anger with God’s unwillingness to intervene, so that the Nazis would not be able to treat Jews in the manner they did: “You (God) have betrayed, allowing them (Jews) to be tortured, slaughtered, gassed, and burned, what do they do?” (Wiesel 68). However, as his Holocaust-related experiences continued to accumulate, Eliezer began to suspect that God did not seem to care about the Jewish people at all because the Jewish deity was simply non-existent. There is another memorable scene in the book, where a young boy ends up being hanged by the Nazis. In the execution’s aftermath, Eliezer provides a mental answer to the question by one of the inmates, as to where God is: “Where He (God) is? This is where—hanging here from this gallows…” (Wiesel 80). This answer signifies the onset of the main character’s intellectual awakening – even though the realization of God’s non-existence, on his part, was emotionally disturbing, he nevertheless decided to stick with it. Apparently, due to his experiences in Auschwitz, Eliezer concluded that it is namely people capable of facing the reality as it is, which are more likely to survive in the ‘live or die’ situations when compared to those people who allow their infantile anxieties to define the manner, in which they address the hardships of life.
I believe that the earlier deployed line of argumentation, as to what accounts for the consequential phases of Eliezer’s disillusionment with God, is fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis.
Fienberg, Nona. “Gazing into the Mirror of Wiesel’s Night, Together.” Pedagogy 9.1 (2009): 167-175. Print.
Gorsky, Jonathan. “Elie Wiesel, Hasidism and the Hiddenness of God.” New Blackfriars 85.996 (2004): 133-143. Print.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print.
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