“I have learned two lessons in my life… Second, just as despair can come to one and other only from other human beings, hope too, can be given only by other human beings” Elie Wiesel. Many lessons can be drawn from the events Eliezer Wiesel witnesses in the months of his confinement. A life shattering event shows Eliezer that life is fragile. Regretted decisions convince him that it is worth it to take risks. Numerous accounts of hatred and abuse cause Eliezer to discover and ugly truth: people can be cruel. Between the spring of 1944 and the summer of 1945 Eliezer Wiesel learns three life changing lessons: life is fragile, some risks are worth taking, and people can be cruel.
In particular the first life lesson Eliezer learns is that life is fragile. Eliezer first learns that life can change at any moment when he is uprooted in the transportations to Auschwitz. “On the table a half-finished bowl of soup. A platter of dough waiting to be baked.” (Wiesel page 20) When brought to the small ghetto the Wiesel family stays in the house once occupied by their uncle, they find it in a state of chaos. The food left unfinished gives Eliezer the understanding that his uncle’s family was caught by surprise, and that their lives changed without moment. Furthermore in his Noble Peace Prize Acceptance speech Elie Wiesel talked about how dramatically his lifer changed. “It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car”. (page 118) Years after his liberation in his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize Wiesel states that he now knows that life is too fragile and fleeting to miss use. He talks about how important it is to take advantage of you time, how he truly understands that lesson. Eliezer learns from the life altering and split second events that life is indeed fragile and can change at any moment.
Additionally Eliezer learns that taking risks is sometimes the best choice. When given the decision to either be evacuated from Buna or stay in the infirmary (with the chance of execution) he chose the less risky path “They were quite simply, liberated by the Russians, two days after the evacuation” (Wiesel 82) Eliezer knew that joining the evacuation would bring the same pain, hunger and mistreatment he had already suffered; he did not know for certain what would result of him and his father staying in the infirmary, only of the rumours speculating death. Eliezer did not take the chance of staying in the infirmary – the chance of being executed instead of liberated- because he was afraid of the unknown, afraid of the risk. If he had taken the risk, both he and his father would have been free and alive. Secondly Eliezer and his family had the opportunity to from deportation. “Maria, our former maid, came to see us. Sobbing she begged us to come with her to her village where she had prepared a safe shelter” (page 20). Blinded by stubbornness -first the father’s refusal to acknowledge the idea, then Eliezer’s refusal to leave his family- they do not take the chance. They had the opportunity to evade their horrors, but they did not take the risk. Throughout his ordeal Eliezer is given choices. Not taking risks cost him.
In addition Eliezer learns the harsh lesson: people can be cruel. The most prominent display of unjustifiable cruelty is within the first moments of arriving at Auschwitz. “A truck drew close and unloaded it’s hold: small children. Babies! Yes, I did see this with my very own eyes… children thrown into the flames” (Wiesel 32). The young Eliezer is incapable of comprehending such a heinous and inhuman act. Cruelty in this extent is something he has never witnessed; it leaves him numb and bewildered. Equally important is the cruelty displayed between the trapped Jewish people. “Once again the young men bound and gagged her. When they actually struck her, people shouted their approval… she received several blows to the head, blows that could have been lethal” (Wiesel 26). The cruelty fuelled by hatred, despair and panic goes beyond their tormentors. Terribly afraid and treated inhumanly themselves, the Jews are even violent to each other, lashing out at Mrs. Schächter because she amplifies their fear of what is to come. While inhuman actions are non-existent to Eliezer before the spring of 1944, in the 11months that follow he discovers that people can be pushed to cruelty.
In conclusion Eliezer Wiesel in the darkest months of his life discovers that cruelty people can give, finds the life he though resolute, shattered, and comes to see the necessity in taking risks. He learns too late that life is fragile and will change without warning. A lesson that can be drawn from Eliezer’s accounts is it is sometime necessary to take risks. People can be cruel is a lesson Eliezer learns when thrown into terrifying situations. These are the three most significant lessons Eliezer Wiesel learns.