Night - Positive/Negative Characters

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David Coulombe
English 30-1
Renata Solski
Essay Choice 2
December 30, 2010

Positive and Negative Characters.

The division of antagonist and protagonist is quite obviously acknowledged in Night by Elie Wiesel. There are however, subcategories that exist in these two groups. To explain this Elie uses physical, mental, emotional and transitional descriptive techniques paired with the character’s unique traits to exhibit the real reason for each character’s appearance. Nazi’s can presumable be placed in a negative category by assumption, as well as the Jewish being assumed positive. Nevertheless, there are always exceptions in life, and this novel contains many. These indifferences would not be distinguishable or explainable without Elie’s distinct descriptions of the individual characters. Elie even includes description that may not be completely accurate, but it enables him to show the reader the correct intentions of the characters.

Elie himself is the one character in Night that does not his personal morals and integrity during his ordeal. From beginning to end, Elie is a determined young character that is as tenacious as the Nazi’s goal of Jew extermination. At such an early age Elie is forced to live through what may be considered as the most heartless crime ever committed. His true colours are always evident as Elie is describing his true self in the novel. He never backs down from a challenge, or struggle. Because the story is written in first person narrative, his description of himself is the novel itself. It is less direct than other character descriptions but it is also very descriptive and easy to understand. As Elie is approaching the crematorium assuming that this is his death march, he is able to keep his composure to prove his courage to the reader as well as his father “I bit my lips so that my father would not hear my teeth chattering. Ten more steps.” (Wiesel 33) These conditions that one see’s Elie live through are themselves character descriptions because of his reactions.

The Nazi personnel in Night can without doubt be placed into a category of their own evil. Though their acts as a whole are unforgivable, some Nazis showed sympathy as well as regret and remorse towards the imprisoned Jewish population. The German generals were fierce and mean. They were portrayed as generally evil. There were on the other hand some of which that had heart. The young general that took care of Elie’s brigade for a period time was a very fierce man who was ruthless and did not car of the lives of the men of whom he watched. At one point, he has a guardian who is a large unhealthy man. This guard was friendly and personable rather than hateful. Treating him with respect got you respect in return, he was a true character. Although he was a Nazi, which means in turn he was part of the problem, he helped the Jewish as much as he could. Elie proved this character’s importance by including specific details and actions that the man took. Once again it is the immense amount of description used by Elie as the author that helps distinguish where each character fits on the scale of good to evil.

Elie’s use of detailed description is one of the main customs he uses to place the characters on the scale of good and bad. During the time spent suffering in the encampment the reader learns many things regarding Elie’s father. He is one of the most described characters because he is Elie’s father. One can easily distinguish that he is a brave man who is willing to fight for his life; he is a loving parent and is willing to do anything to protect his son. The reader is educated of this throughout the novel by experiencing first hand the character developments just as Elie did during his trials of life. Elie’s father, Shlomo is also a transitional character. Towards the end of their journey through German concentration camps, he begins to lose home. He becomes aged and ill; Elie is forced to take care of him or else he...
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