Despair as an Emotion and Image
In the novel Night by Elie Wiesel, it is nineteen forty-four and nearing the end of World War 2. Eliezer, a young Jewish boy living in Sighet, Transylvania, is captured by Nazi soldiers and is shipped of to the notorious death camps. Eliezer, along with his family and the rest of the Jewish community, undergoes extreme trials of pain and suffering. Despair eventually becomes a common feeling and theme in the book and the images portrayed in the novel are the cause of it; Eliezer’s exposure to them changes him physically and mentally.
The images of despair within the concentration camps physically change everyone who is exposed to them, including Eliezer. As the story continues the concentration camps introduce newfound horrors. From murder to relentless torture, the images are graphic and grotesque. In one instance Eliezer witnesses the burning of newborn babies, “A truck drew close and unloaded its hold: small children. Babies! Yes, I did see this, with my own eyes… children thrown into the flames”(32). These experiences drive the Jewish prisoners to the point of exhaustion. Eliezer is physically tormented through the backbreaking work and various other things. In one instance Eliezer is called to receive a lashing, “ I no longer felt anything except the lashes of the whip. ‘One! . . . Two! . . .’ he was counting”(57). He willing lets himself become physically tormented and his experiences with pain cause him to feel despair. He also explains the effect of these events, he says, “At last, the morning star appeared in the gray sky. A trail of indeterminate light showed on the horizon. We were exhausted. We were without strength, without illusions”(71). He shows how everyone is shattered from the their time in the concentration camp. That they have no strength and are overall physically broken from their time spent in the camps. Not just overall willpower is affected but appearance as well. Towards the end of the book...
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