“Night” by Elie Wiesel – Personal Responses
Moché the Beadle’s story is very disturbing. He had experienced horrible atrocities and risked his life to warn his fellow townspeople. However, the latter did not believe him yet alone listen to him. They called him the madman. This passage is hard for the reader, who knows what is going to happen to the Jews later on (situational irony). Moché was also foreshadowing what was going to happen to the Jews. This warning also brings about the postulation that many Jews could have escaped the Holocaust had they believed in the some firsthand testimonies. •
This naivety can also be seen on page 20: “The Germans were already in the town, the Fascists were already in power, the verdict had already been pronounced, yet the Jews of Sighet continued to smile.” •
When Eliezer is leaving his house in Sighet, he said, “I thought of nothing” (page 30). I can empathise with him at this point and understand, to some extent, what he is going through. I have moved around several times myself and each time, I did feel nothing. It was a sort of emptiness that, paradoxically, filled my body. I hadn’t yet fully realised that I would never go back. •
“There were no longer any questions of wealth, of social distinction and importance, only people condemned to the same fate – still unknown.” This quote really marks me because it shows that when people are in a state of panic or uncertainty, they forget about the conventions of society, of any prejudices they once held and live together. •
On page 33, it is very ironic that the Jews of Sighet are trapped in their own synagogue, their house of prayer, especially on a Saturday. It must have been painful for them to see the broken altar and the torn down walls and hangings.
Madame Schächter is a very disturbing yet intriguing character in this chapter. She is foreshadowing the fire to come and even mentions the furnace. Again, it is a warning, which the people fail to pick out. The Jews on the train consider her insane and even beat her to make her shut up. This is yet another example of the naivety of humans, they did not believe that such atrocities could be done. •
When the Jews on Eliezer’s train arrived at Birkenau and saw flames in front of them and smelt “burning flesh” in the air, you would think that they had finally realised what was going on. But they still believed this was a work camp. The reader feels terrible at this point, just wanting to scream out to them that this is not a work camp but a concentration camp, that they are going to die. •
The thought of the smell of burning flesh really disgusts me but I cannot even begin to imagine what such a smell would actually smell like. Previously, whenever I thought of fire, I would picture a warm, cosy fireplace but now my image of a fire has been changed to a crematory instead.
When Eliezer is forced to part from his mother and younger sister Tzipora, I felt a chill down my spine. The eight simple words that split his world into two are really emphasised upon in this passage. The fact that neither his mother nor sister are mentioned again in the rest of the book, make it more believable: it is in the nature of the human mind to temporarily forget about people when you yourself are going through so much. •
When Eliezer is told to lie about his age, we find out how old he is: 15. The fact that he is my age, has preoccupied me during the reading of the novel/memoir. Frankly, I do not think that I would have been as strong as he was, to survive the holocaust at such a young age. Today, it is unimaginable that such atrocities could be carried out for so long without anyone intervening. •
The passage on page 45 is a very powerful and moving one. “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...
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