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Night by Elie Wisel

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“‘I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.’ “(page 81)

In this quote from the book Night, by Elie Wiesel, the victims of the Holocaust are depicted as having lost all faith. The story follows a young boy facing the horrors of the genocide of his race, and how he survives against all odds. Despite the overwhelming negativity throughout the book, there is still light in contrast with the darkness. Loyalty and selfishness, surviving and living for, and darkness and light— these internal conflicts show how people react differently even in the harshest of environments.

 

The two ideals of loyalty and selfishness battle within each person throughout the story. In some situations, the sense of loyalty prevails against selfishness. On page 105, Elie’s father feels like giving up, saying: “I can’t go on anymore... “ Despite that, Elie refuses to give up his father, and keeps him alive by feeding him and making sure he doesn’t lay down for too long in the freezing cold . Yet other times, selfishness wins out. On page 91, Rabbi Eliahu is separated from his son and Elie realizes that his son abandoned him: “A terrible thought crossed my mind: What if he had wanted to be rid of his father? He had felt his father growing weaker and, believing that the end was near, had thought by this separation to free himself of a burden that could diminish his own chance for survival.” Each person struggles in his/her own battle between loyalty and selfishness, and the outcome depends on the person.

 

A large wall divides surviving for and living for in the story Night. Each person lives to their own set of rules, and sometimes it is not worth it to live once there is nothing left to live for. On page 76, a quote describes Akiba Drumer, a former rabbi, had lost all faith in his religion and decided that there was nothing left to live for: “He just kept repeating that it was all over for him, that he could no longer fight, he had no more strength, no more faith. His eyes would suddenly go blank, leaving two gaping wounds, two wells of terror.” Another example is on page 45, where it says: “We never saw him again. He had been given the news. The real news.” This quote is from when Stein lived for his family, until he discovered his family was dead, so he gave up on living.  Sometimes people would rather die than live for nothing.

 

Light and darkness have a unique relationship in the Holocaust. Each causes awareness of each other, but when they appear out of the opposite, it has a heavier impact. This principle applies to the book, where the Holocaust victims found light in the darkest of places. One scene where this occurs is when Juliek plays his violin while they are cramped in a ghetto on page 95: “A violin in a dark barrack where the dead were piled on top of the living? … Never before had I heard such a beautiful sound.” If Juliek was playing anywhere else, it wouldn’t have been so beautiful. The music showed that there was still light within the darkness and a beauty among the terrors of the Holocausts, yet it also caused awareness of the darkness when it finished.
 




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