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“Human evil is man’s responsibility, not God’s” (Chaikin 137). Many people lose their faith in God during the Holocaust because of the horrible things that happen to them during this time. One of them is Wiesel the author of the memoir Night, although what he has been through is not God’s responsibility, but it is man’s. The memoir, Night is about Wiesel who is only fifteen years old when he is moved to Auschwitz, which is also referred to, as the “Death Camp”. In this book, Wiesel writes about his life during the Holocaust and how he suffers and loses his faith in God after witnessing a lot of people’s death. The memoir precisely describes the time he is in the camps and works for the Nazis. In the memoir Night, Wiesel writes about losing faith through his use of deliberate symbolism, purposeful irony and internal voice to demonstrate how horrible situations affect people and have the people understand what he has been through.
Wiesel was born in Sighet, Romania in 1928. His first and one of his best books, Night, was published in 1958 which is about his experience in German concentration camps during the Holocaust (Perkins). Issac, a great writer, talks about Wiesel’s novels, by stating, “Wiesel’s first five novels, in fact, can be meaningfully read as a sustained, developing revolt against God from within a Jewish context” (Isaac 491). The reason that most of Wiesel’s books are generally against and do not favor God, is that Wiesel lost his faith in God and blames God for what happened to Jewish community during the Holocaust. The usual theme that Wiesel writes the most about is horror, and his books mostly examine moral issues. His life influences his work because he has been through very horrible things and has lost his faith because of that. That is why he devotes most of his works to examine moral issues and the nature of evil (Kolbert). Wiesel lived during World War II and the Holocaust. During this time, the Nazi party, who thought they were superior because of their pure German blood, encouraged prejudice against Jews and killed millions of them. He was only a teenager when he was moved to the concentrations camps, where he lost both his family and his innocence. He tells us that this harshness did not make sense by saying, "to go mad in order to understand the nature of madness, the immense, terrifying madness that had erupted in history and in the conscience of mankind?" (Wiesel vii). He is surprised by the nature of evil and how Nazis could just burn babies and kill that many people, that easily. Wiesel also expresses his anger toward the fact that the world kept silent, by stating, “I pinched myself: Was I alive? Was I awake? How was it possible that men, women, and children were being burned and that the world kept silent?” (Wiesel 32). He is angry that world kept silence during the Holocaust and that inspired him to break this silence by writing a book. Writing this book helped him not to forget what had happened to him and Jewish people. By writing this book he let everybody know about the inhumane nature of Hitler and in a way he prohibited this disaster to happen again. Some people say that it was his faith to survive and write about his life to let everybody know about this harsh, morbid, brutal, and evil action of Hitler.
In the memoir Night, the author uses different literary devices to describe his loss of faith during the time he is suffering in the concentration camps. One of the literary devices that is commonly used by Wiesel is symbolism. In the memoir there are a couple of situations in which Wiesel uses symbolism to describe his loss of faith. Wiesel describes his loss of faith, when he writes, "[b]ehind me, I [hear] the same man asking: 'For God's sake, where is God?' And from within me I [hear] a voice answer: 'Where he is? This is where--hanging here from this gallows" (Wiesel 65). Wiesel has completely lost his faith in God after seeing an innocent child being hanged. The SS soldiers hang the child, but he is not very heavy so he does not die instantly and suffers for 30 minutes, and make the Jewish people watch the whole process and that affects Wiesel and many others very much. Losing his faith causes him to have one less reason to live. Wiesel uses deliberate symbolism when he states that God was hanging in front of them. The phrase "hanging here from the gallows" symbolizes the death of his faith in God and that he no longer believes in God's justice. In this memoir, not only the author’s diction, but also his actions throughout the book symbolize his loss of faith. Some of Wiesel’s actions, such as not fasting, symbolize his rebellion against God. Wiesel talks about his rebellion against God when he states, “I did not fast. First of all, to please my father who had forbidden me to do so. And then, there was no longer any reason for me to fast. I no longer accepted God’s silence. As I swallowed my ration of soup, I turned that act into a symbol of rebellion, of protest against Him” (Wiesel 69). It is Yom Kippur and many Jewish people fast even though they are in concentration camps, to prove their faith to God, but Wiesel is not one of them. He does not fast because he wants to disobey God to show that he is angry at God. His action-not fasting-symbolizes his loss of faith. He also mentions in the quote that he no longer accepts the fact that God is silent and does not do anything to protect his society. He protests against both God and weakness, by eating instead of fasting and finds the strength to stay healthy and survive the Holocaust. The use of symbolism by the author makes the memoir, Night, a great piece of literature. Wiesel uses symbolism to demonstrate his loss of faith. In the book Night, Wiesel talks about how their hope dies when they saw the babies burning in the fire. Hawker, the writer of Genocide in Elie Wiesel’s Night, explains the fires of Auschwitz, by stating, “[t]he fires of Auschwitz consume the light, the religious faith, of Eliezer and leave him a ‘damned soul’ wandering through a darkness where question and answer would never become one” (Hawker 71). During most of his interviews, Wiesel talks about how the fires of Auschwitz consumed his faith, which is also a use of symbolism. The fires of the Holocaust illustrate the evilness of SS soldiers during the Holocaust, which later causes him to lose his complete faith in God. But again Wiesel was only 15 years old when he was moved to Auschwitz and for such a young boy, and he only wants to blame someone for this situation, therefore he blames God for creating these evil soldiers. Wiesel uses not only astonishing symbolism but also considerable irony to express his feelings while losing his faith.
Wiesel uses irony to illustrate his terrible internal conflict and his loss of faith because of the horrible situation he is going through. Ironic rhetorical questions are frequently used by Wiesel in the memoir Night. He usually uses rhetorical questions about his faith which leads him to eventually lose his faith in God. Wiesel talks about his doubt in God’s justice, by writing, “[w]hy, but why would I bless Him [God]? Because He caused thousands of children to burn in His great graves? Because in His great might, He had created Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, and so many other factories of death?” (Wiesel 67). This is the point where Wiesel stops praising God. By contrast, in his childhood, he used to kneel and praise God and even cry while he was praying. The same God he counted on for a while to save them from their misery. After seeing millions of people dying, and being confronted by the nature of evil every single day for four years, changed him, and his beliefs. He no longer senses God’s existence in concentration camps. Wiesel blames God for the existence of SS soldiers and the death of many people. That might be one of the reasons he stays strong and fights for his life to prove to God that he does not need God to survive. Wiesel uses ironic rhetorical questions to prove that he has a point in losing his faith, because he suffered immensely during the Holocaust. Irony is not only in Wiesel’s writing but also in the concentration camps. The concentration camps are full of ironic signs which were usually at the gates of the camps. Wiesel talks about the ironic signs, by stating, “[t]he inscription: WARNING! DANGER OF DEATH. What irony. Was there here a single place where one was not in danger of death?” (Wiesel 40). Another sign is on the gates of working camp which states, “Working makes you free.” These signs give people fake hopes and are very ironic because the Jewish people never became free by working and are always in the danger of death. Only a few survive and for many, ironically, death is their freedom from suffering and starving. The death of thousands of people in front of Wiesel causes him to lose both his innocence and faith. Irony is used by Wiesel to demonstrate the horrible situation that he is in. In the memoir Night, Wiesel thanks God for the things that are not significant and that is very ironic. Culp, a great writer, talks about irony in the memoir Night, by stating, “[c]omic scenes are created to magnify the tragic quality of the story...[A]fter Eliezer is permitted to keep his pair of new mud coated shoes, he thanks God for ‘having created mud in his infinite and wonderful universe’” (Culp 87). Wiesel uses irony to intensify the harshness of Holocaust. That is why he thanks God for mud to express that Holocaust was so horrible that he should even be thankful for the mud. Wiesel using the adjective “wonderful” to describe world, is also very ironic. Irony is a literary device, frequently used by Wiesel through the memoir Night. Another method that is used by Wiesel to describe his loss of faith was the use of internal voice.
Wiesel uses internal voice in the memoir Night to display his internal conflicts which includes his doubt in God. Most parts of the memoir Night include internal voice because there are not much dialogue between Jewish people. Most of Eliezer’s life in concentration camps is in silence because they neither have the permission nor the energy to talk with each other that much. Wiesel uses internal voice when he states, “[a]nd from within me, I heard a voice answer: Where He is? This is where-hanging here from this gallows” (Wiesel 65). This quote is an example of the use of internal voice, in the memoir Night. Wiesel uses internal voice to let the reader know about what is going through his mind. That way the reader would know Wiesel’s opinion about each of the events that happens through the book, which in this quote he lets the reader know about his opinion about God and whether he exists or not. Wiesel uses internal voice to express his anger toward God. During the time that Wiesel is in the camp he is often mad at God. Wiesel talks about his internal inflict with God when he states, “[f]or the first time I felt anger rising in me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for?” (Wiesel 33). Wiesel is very upset and angry with God, because God chose to be silent and does not help the Jews in that horrible situation. According to Wiesel, the same God, that Wiesel used to praise, turns His back on him. Wiesel frequently uses internal voice to express his feelings towards God, and through this book he eventually loses his faith in God completely. Wiesel’s silence and use of only internal voice shows that he no longer has a soul. After his father’s death, Wiesel becomes very silent and rarely talks, he only uses internal voice in the memoir Night to let the reader know about his feelings. Dougherty, who wrote an essay on Night, talks about Wiesel’s silence by stating, “Eliezer's silence, which occurs when his father dies, symbolizes his virtual death. Language is the underpinning of human relationships, and is itself bound up in notions of faith and disbelief” (Dougherty). In the last chapter of the memoir Night, Wiesel frequently uses internal voice because a large part of his soul dies with his father. That is why Wiesel later states that when he looks at himself in the mirror after he is liberated, he sees a corpse staring at him. His innocence, spirit, and faith in God all die during the Holocaust. Wiesel uses different kinds of literary devices to illustrate his loss of faith therefore this book has many effects on lives of people today.
The memoir Night changed the world and impacted literature, society and even politics. Wiesel received Prix Rivarol Award in 1963, Nobel Peace, and Medal of Liberty Award all in 1986, Special Christopher Book Award in 1987, and many more awards. Wiesel explains the effects of his book, Night, on society by stating, “[f]irst of all there has been a powerful change in the public’s attitude. In the fifties and sixties, adults born before or during World War II showed a careless and patronizing indifference toward what is so inadequately called, the Holocaust. That is no longer true” (Wiesel xiv). Today many people all around the world know about the Holocaust because of Wiesel’s memoir. His purpose from writing this book is to prevent this harshness to happen again. That is why he is giving many speeches about Israel, whose existence is threatened today. He is also giving speeches about the “war” that is going on in Palestine because he wants all of the nations to try to stop violence. His speeches also have great impacts on politics because today United States is protecting Israel against Iran and preventing Iran to achieve nuclear bombs. His book also has an impact on literature, because after he wrote his memoir, many Holocaust survivors were persuaded to write books about their own experience about the Holocaust.
The quotes from both the memoir Night and the outside sources, all illustrate just a few examples of the use of literary devices by Wiesel. He uses different literary devices all through his memoir Night to demonstrate his loss of innocence, faith, and spirit. That is why the book is very effective, and affects the lives of its readers. It is also important to know that Wiesel talks about a teenager, Eliezer, in this book and the fact that this teenager loses his faith in God is reasonable. The reason is that he cannot understand the fact that, “Human evil is man’s responsibility, not God’s” (Chaikin 137).



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