Night by Elie Wiesel

March 24, 2009
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'Good morning class! Today, we are going to start on our new novel study, Night, by Elie Wiesel,' my English teacher announced enthusiastically. Great, another clich' boring/historical book to examine, I thought. I wasn't really looking forward to it. We all know the Holocaust took place decades ago. Why does it matter now?

I have always considered the Holocaust a distant past, but what I didn't realize was that it will never be, for its legacy will live on forever to serve as a reminder for all humanity. I knew that the Holocaust was a genocide in which about six million Jews were murdered. However, I did not fully comprehend the immensity of this number nor did I understand the connotation that this word has. The actual physical, mental, and emotional hardships were painfully revealed to me through Night, a poignant memoir written by Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust. This was one of the most, if not the most, disheartening book I've ever read. The cruelties that I've preconceived as myths were more real than I could ever imagine.

The story revolves around a teenager who experiences the Holocaust first hand. He struggles to maintain his humanity while trying to survive the atrocities of the Holocaust. The book begins with an ominous message by Moshe, whom no one believed, or rather refused to believe. He allegedly escapes a Jewish massacre, and comes back to warn everybody, but what people don't realize is that it is not a warning; it is a prophecy. Reality soon sets in after the Jews in Elie's town are evicted and transported into the ghetto. As the story further progressed, the prisoners are further stripped of their pride and integrity. Human rights virtually becomes off-limit. Meanwhile, people's faith in God dwindles as they reach the epitome of torture and humiliation.

The main character, as well as his father, and other fellow Jews are put under strained conditions such as extreme hunger and cold climate. Through out the book, different challenges often defeat the prisoners who, no matter how strong, are prone to be conquered, losing their ethics and lives, often both. Before reading this book, I firmly believe that people are able to maintain their humanity no matter what extreme situation they encountered. However, it is much easier just to worry about oneself, and the harsh conditions of the Holocaust lead some people to just that conclusion. Instead of taking care of each other, people starts to think more strategically, about what they can do to survive, and as a result, they end up alone. People change, and perhaps without even realizing it, some of the Jews gradually become dehumanized. I'm deeply disturbed by how people's morale could change so drastically due to what is happening to them.


When I came across chapter about the German workers who aren't at all surprised when they witness the Jews marching through their towns, I'm enraged that one civilian even had the inconsiderate notion to throw the prisoners some bread, only to observe the 'spectacle' of the desperate Jews savagely fighting for a few crumbs to appease their hunger. I really don't see how this event can be viewed as entertainment because the scrambling Jews are being watched as animals. Their human qualities are significantly reduced to instinctive behaviors of an uncivilized species. Isn't that enough? Yet, some malicious people strive to make the situation even worse than the predicament already is for the prisoners. I'm confused that there wasn't much sympathy or philanthropic actions coming from the Germans. Surely, they can't really believe the doctrine that Jews don't deserve to live. After all, in my opinion we are all the same race: human. After finishing the book, I still wonder how so many people are brainwashed. The Holocaust progresses for much longer than necessary because no one takes note of the occurrence or acts against it until it is too late and many people are already murdered.



It is very unfortunate for Elie Wiesel to have lived through the Holocaust, but I'm glad he survives it (more or less) to bear witness of the unimaginable atrocities of that dark period and write about it to inform the whole world so that history shall not repeat itself. I'm glad for the opportunity to have read this book because it casts a light upon a much fearful and touching subject that many adolescents like me are unexposed to. Although the horrific recollections are difficult to conceive, I feel like I'm more knowledgeable about the Holocaust on a personal level. I would definitely recommend Night to anybody because it would teach them the gratitude they take for granted. Most people think of the food they eat (or waste), shelter, and family they have as given conditions of life, but I hope they'd learn to cherish and perceive at least a few things in a new light. This book provokes me to profound thinking about human's behavior and made me realize how lucky I am to live in a relatively safe and just place along family members and the people that I love.





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