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Wiesel Elie “Night”: Eliezer’s Lost Childhood


‘Night’ is an autobiographical story written by Wiesel Elie. The short story details the plight of a Jewish family during the holocaust. In the course of World War 2, the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler unleashed unimaginable and horrifying atrocities against members of the Jewish community living in Germany and neighboring countries. Wiesel does not just narrate what transpired in concentration camps but also invites the conscience of the reader to the memories of the worst documented crimes against humanity (Rosen 23). The story of Eliezer, a Jewish boy living in Hungary, unfolds in rich imagery that embeds it into the consciousness of the reader. Nazi operatives separate the boy from her mother and sister and together with his dad; he embarks on a journey to Auschwitz, a notorious concentration camp during World War 2. This journey permanently changes Eliezer’s life, as this paper will extrapolate.

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Eliezer’s lost childhood

Family is very important in the development of a child. It offers warmth, comfort, and strength to forge on in life (Sternlicht 34). Eliezer’s childhood begins to diminish after separation from his family. The journey to Auschwitz is torturous, with no food or proper shelter. He can no longer go to school, play with his friends, or enjoy the company of family, as a child should. Eliezer’s childhood dissipates at another higher level. He witnessed dreadful images he had not seen before. At one point, they came across a young boy dangling from a noose for sympathizing with Jews. Eliezer opines, “For half an hour, the child in the noose struggled between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes” (Wiesel 34). These were traumatizing images that eroded the innocence inherent in childhood. The death of the boy represented the demise of childhood for Eliezer.

Image of the mirror

Eliezer witnessed the death of many more Jews, their horrible circumstances before death, and the horror meted out by Nazi soldiers. He thus lost his faith in God and humanity and his world perspective changed completely. His father succumbed to dysentery and when Americans liberated the Jews from a concentration camp, Eliezer was an entirely new person. When he remarks that, “I have not seen myself since the ghetto” (Wiesel 45), Eliezer depicts the emptiness that had pervaded his life in a concentration camp. The image of the mirror is therefore that of a new person. Having witnessed the atrocities, wanton destruction, and loss of life, his faith in humanity had dissipated.

Eliezer’s transformation is manifest from the symbolism of the corpse that gazed back at him. He says, “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me” (Wiesel 110). This reflects the loss of identity for holocaust victims and survivors. What he had witnessed took away his childhood and innocence. The Eliezer that lived in the ghetto of Hungary is different from the one who survives the holocaust. He longer has faith in God or humanity. Once a pious and a firm believer in God, he began to doubt His existence.


‘Night’ is a story of pain, suffering, torture, and death visited on Jews during the holocaust. Unbelievably, neighbors turned against each other and humiliated them in a manner that puts humanity to question. The autobiographical story of Eliezer is a sad one, revealing the transformation from the pristine innocence of childhood to avoid and empty life of a different childhood.

Works Cited

Rosen, Alan. Approaches to Teaching Wiesel’s Night. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2007. Print.

Sternlicht, Sanford. Student Companion to Elie Wiesel. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Greenwood Press, 2003. Print.

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Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. London: Penguin, 2006. Print.

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