Night: My Opinion on its Controversies | Teen Ink

Night: My Opinion on its Controversies

May 15, 2015
By annycs13 GOLD, Davis, California
annycs13 GOLD, Davis, California
12 articles 12 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The less you reveal, the more people can wonder.."



-Emma Watson


During out World War ll block, our teacher asked us to write an essay on Elie Weisel’s book, Night.  He asked us to write about what we thought of the book’s controversy and whether or not we believed it was a true story and if it mattered to us whether it was or not.  He asked us to speculate whether or not it’s a novel or a memoir and why we think it’s one of those.  Did we believe that Elie Weisel was really at Auschwitz?  Did it matter to us?  Should high school students read this book if it’s untrue?  Well, I believe that the book Night is a novel.  I don’t think what Weisel wrote is true.  I believe that, perhaps, if the story does have truth in it, that Weisel may have interviewed someone who really was at Auschwitz and that’s how he got the details on what it was like in there.  At first, I started reading the book as a novel.  I didn’t know it was a memoir until about halfway through when someone pointed out that it was.  I was pretty skeptical.  I mean, there are so many details in the book!  So many things a fifteen-year-old boy couldn’t have picked up on if he was terrified and starving.  Perhaps Night is based on a true story.  Maybe it really is true.  I doubt it though.  Why?  Because of all the details given throughout the story.  I mean, unless Weisel kept a diary, I don’t think he would have remembered all that much.  Especially not when the book was written ten to fifteen years later.


I think that Night reads more as a novel because it flows together smoothly.  In The Diary of Ann Frank, parts of the story was disjointed due to the fact that it was a real diary and she couldn’t have written every single day with every detail in between.  Something else that struck me as odd was the way Weisel acted in the book.  Now, I’m not a fifteen-year-old boy, and I can’t imagine going through his experience, but I feel that the way Weisel behaves in the book is all too… fake.  Calculated.  Now, I write a lot of books, I love to write fictional stories, so I understand how important it is to make a good, believable character.  I’m not saying I’m a better writer than Elie Weisel, nor am I saying that I think that Weisel’s a liar, but the way that Weisel acts in the book is way too detailed and practiced.


I read a book once called Number the Stars.  It was by Lois Lowry and it was a novel about a young girl whose best friend was a Jew and they took her in and disguised her as her sister.  The book won a Newberry Medal in 1990 even though it was fictional.  The way I read Night was the same way I read Number the Stars.  Like a novel.  A captivating, historical novel that seemed very real yet wasn’t.  Night may seem very real, but all the details lead me to believe it’s not.


It’s no crime to write a good book with a believable character and a good plot.  I do think it’s a bit of a crime to steal someone’s identity.  Now, I don’t know whether or not Weisel stole A-7713’s identity, no can I tell you if the real A-7713 gave Weisel his permission to use his number.  Honestly, it doesn’t make a difference to me whether he did or not.  It doesn’t change the way I read the book.  If Weisel wrote the book as a memoir and everything is true, then fine, but I’d call him a slightly s***ty writer because it flows together way too smoothly and doesn’t distinguish well as a memoir.  If it really is a true story, then amazing, he lived through a terrible experience and he must have had an amazing memory for a terrified fifteen-year-old boy. 


I think that maybe some of Night’s facts are true, and if so, then the author should “Based on a True Story” rather than swearing in court that everything in it is the truth.  Everything is a big word.  And I think that it’s a lie.  “Night, by Elie Weisel, ‘Based on a True Story’”.  That sounds much better.


There’s no real proof that Elie Weisel was at Auschwitz.  The controversy surrounding the book only leads me to further believe that it’s a fictional novel.  There is proof that the author doesn’t have a tattoo printed on his left arm, or either of his arms.  The famous picture taken at Buchenwald with Weisel “supposedly” in the corner, I feel is fake.  The person in the photo is an old guy who doesn’t look remotely close to a fifteen-year-old boy.  I look at my classmates, all around the ages of fifteen and sixteen, and, I imagined them thinner, sicker, filthier, I feel that they look a little older, and yet, at the same time, younger.  But, if they did look older, I don’t think they would look that older. 


So though I don’t believe that the story is fully true, I do think it’s important for students to read the book.  It’s important for students to learn about the holocaust, and to learn about the different controversies surrounding the book.  Also, it’s important to be able to differentiate between truth and fiction.  It’s a good skill to know. 

Discussing Elie Weisel’s book is important because it leads you to question whether or not these accounts are real or not, and if not, to be able to find the differences between the truth and fiction.  We can compare real accounts at Auschwitz, and compare them to Night to find the differences.


Discussing topics like what happened at Auschwitz is important for students to learn about because it brings us out of our little safe bubbles and into the bigger world.  It forces us to look at the horrors of the world and to actually see that we can actually do.  We can’t imagine what it was like in the 1930’s and 40’s because of all of our technology, and things we can’t live without.  To some people, discussing the Holocaust is a touchy subject, but it’s important to learn about because if we don’t learn about it, then who will remember it?  Who will be able to fight for it or to say it really did happen? 


The Holocaust shaped out world and history today.  It’s just as important as Shakespeare or the Revolutionary War.  It really did happen, and people really were affected by it.  If all those people hadn’t died in the Holocaust then imagine how many people would be with us today?  Imagine how many people wouldn’t.  Students should learn that the Holocaust important to remember, and it’s not just like some homework assignment question, or when to use your turn signal on a driver’s test.  It’s so much more important than either of those things and people should know that and remember that. 


High schooler's should read books like Night and think and discuss their controversies.  They should learn about the horrors and remember them.  Maybe Elie Weisel was at Auschwitz, maybe he wasn’t.  It doesn’t matter to me.  He wrote a book, a book that makes people remember an important time in history.  The book draws attention to itself, and to what happened during the Holocaust and that’s what I believe, is really important.  What does it matter whether or not it’s a novel or a memoir?  Night brings us back to an important time in history and, whether it’s real or not, it sends a message to us all that clearly states that what happened during the Holocaust, was very real, and very important.



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