Essay Night: Elie Wiesel and Stark Image Sums

Submitted By binca09
Words: 704
Pages: 3

1. Discuss the significance of the last three paragraphs of Night.
The book ends as Eliezer recovers from food poisoning in the hospital at Buchenwald after the camp has been liberated. One day he musters the strength to get up and look at himself in a mirror. He has not seen his own face since he left Sighet over a year ago. In the mirror, "a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me." This stark image sums up much of the message of Night. It is an image of despairing silence, and silence has been a prominent theme throughout the book. The "corpse" that gazes back at Eliezer is mute; there are no words that can do justice to the experience he and the Jewish people have been through. Although Eliezer is still alive physically, something in his soul is dead. He has witnessed the death of humanity, even what he thinks of as the death of God. He no longer has religious faith. Everything that he knew has been destroyed, and all that is left is death. As Elie Wiesel put it, "In Night I wanted to show the end, the finality of the event. Everything came to an end-man, history, literature, religion, God. There was nothing left" (quoted in Simon P. Sibelman, Silence in the Novels of Elie Wiesel, St. Martin's Press, 1995, p. 44). Eliezer (and the author, Elie Wiesel) must somehow find a way of making a new beginning, but everything he does in the future will contain the experience of the Holocaust at its core. He will never leave it behind.
2. Was the Holocaust a unique event in human history?
It would be hard to exaggerate the horror of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews died as a deliberate act of policy on the part of the Nazis. The aim of Adolf Hitler and his regime was to exterminate the Jews, whom they regarded as inferior and "subhuman." Just to give one example of the staggering extent of the slaughter: at Auschwitz, which was the most notorious death camp of them all, in a forty-six day period in the summer of 1944, between 250,000 and 300,000 Hungarian Jews were put to death at the camp in the gas chambers. The SS also resorted to mass shootings during this period to relieve the pressure on the gas chambers, even though these could accommodate two thousand people at one time. (Auschwitz was the camp that Eliezer was sent to and spent three weeks there in the spring of 1944.) Even today, when the Holocaust is sixty years in the past, and the facts are well-known, it still comes as a shock to read the first-hand accounts of what happened. Presented