The Vicissitude of Faith in Night
When we’re young and we have a toy or a play thing, we get angry if that thing is taken away from us; we throw a tantrum. This is because the toy retains our focus and interest, and then it’s just ripped away. Elie Wiesel was prematurely ripped from his world of family and faith, forced to the infamous concentration camp of Auschwitz to wither away along with the burned remains of his past and hopes. The drastic change from Wiesel’s rendition of his experiences during the Holocaust, Night, portrays many themes throughout the entirety of its pages, with one of the most prominent themes being Elie’s own faith and its vicissitude over time, of which is seen in the early years of his life where he was devout to his religion, to the train ride and arrival at Auschwitz where he begs God to help, ending in the death of his God as the children are hung, and the total rejection of a God altogether.
As a child, before the Holocaust, Wiesel was a fervent and dedicated Jew. Early in the pages of Night, Wiesel recalls a question that his father had asked him. “ ‘Why do you pray?’ he asked me, after a moment. Why did I pray? A strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe?” (Wiesel 2). Wiesel’s life is centered around his religion; he finds it completely abstruse for his father to question his praying, because praying is what he does. Praying, faith, Judaism; all these things are his toys. Wiesel doesn’t just worship to worship, he worships because that is the thing he gets to play with. Imagine if these toys were taken away from him? These are just any toys, these toys are essential to his sanity and well-being. He compares his faith and prayer to his breathing. Not only does he need them, but losing them would be a debility that Wiesel isn’t sure he can face. Despite the necessity to retain this, they ignore the warnings and threats that the Nazis pose, and he and his family remain almost blissfully ignorant of the fact that...
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