Due Date: 10.01.13
Nothing is Left
“The student of the Talmud, the child that I was, had been consumed in the flames. There remained only a shape that looked like me. A dark flame had entered into my soul and devoured it.” (34)
Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night, is an eye-opening novel about the conditions of the lives of the Jews who were held in concentration camps during the Holocaust. The Jews had to go through many sufferings, one of the major ones being deprived of every such thing that could possibly give them reason to live. They went for years without adequate food, clothing, shelter, and hygiene. Elie, being one of the stronger individuals, did not give up terribly soon but as time worsened, he ultimately lost faith in his God, humanity, and even himself.
There were several scenes throughout the book where Elie seems to lose faith in humanity. One of them being when his mother and sister, Tzipora, were taken away from him and his father. “’Men to the left! Women to the right!’ Eight short, simple words. Yet that was the moment when I parted from my mother. I had not had time to think, but already I felt the pressure of my father’s hand: we were alone.” (27) Afterwards, Elie and his father were sent into a line where they were to be burned in a crematory and Elie came to think it was all a nightmare. (28) “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.” (32)
“’Humanity? Humanity is not concerned with us. Today anything is allowed. Anything is possible, even these crematories….’” (30) Humanity seemed to be scarce at the camps. Elie’s father, surviving along Elie’s side, was quite an elderly man. Yet with no respect to age or health, the Germans would beat him when he asked any questions. “The gypsy looked him up and down slowly, from head to foot. As if he wanted to convince himself that this man addressing him was really a creature of flesh and bone, a living being with a body and a belly. Then, as if he had suddenly woken up from a heavy doze, he dealt my father such a clout that he fell to the ground, crawling back to his place on all fours.” (36-37) Another scene is when the Jews were being lined up for the extraction of “gold” teeth. The Kapos began choosing “suitable men”. “They pointed a finger, as though choosing cattle or merchandise.” (47) What is one’s reaction to this treatment? Nothing; people are left speechless. Sick people were killed, the alive were given barely any rations. Anyone who tried to move other than from orders was shot immediately. These actions and behavior just reassured Elie that believing in humanity was for the blind and foolish.
“’What are You, my God,’ I thought angrily, ‘compared to this afflicted crowd, proclaiming to You their faith, their anger, their revolt? What does Your greatness mean, Lord of the universe, in the face of all this weakness, this decomposition, and this decay? Why do You still trouble their sick minds, their crippled bodies?’” (63) Losing faith in faith, as in God, is one of the hardest things to imagine happening to a person when he is brought up in a very religious fashion. “’You must never lose faith, even when the sword hangs over your head. That’s the teaching of our sages.’” (29) As early as Chapter 3, when his turn first comes to be burned, he begins doubting his faith in his God. “For the first time, I felt revolt rise up in me. Why should I bless His name? The Eternal, Lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him for?” (31) At this point in the memoir, Elie’s faith is partially regained because he is not chosen in the selection. Elie thanked his God at the most, for creating mud