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Rhetorical Analysis of Elie Wiesel's 'Night'

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Kristen Hackney
Stephanie Schaefer
AP Language
29 October 2012
Rhetorical Analysis Paper-Revision: Novelist, Elie Wiesel, in his memoir, “Night,” reflects his tragic childhood living through the Holocaust. Wiesel exposes the horrors of the Holocaust so that it will never be forgotten. He uses imagery, metaphor, and anaphora to evoke the pathetic appeal and intrigue his readers. Wiesel depicts awful and gruesome imagery of “Infants [being] tossed into the air and used as targets for the machine guns.” (Wiesel 24) This illustrates the pure hatred that the Jews were faced with. To toss an infant that has never harmed you in any way up into the air and murder someone so innocent is just animalistic and a blatant lack of respect for human life. I cannot comprehend how someone can condone such behavior.
The image of corpses is used not only to describe literal death, but also to symbolize spiritual death. After liberation, when Eliezer looks at himself for the first time in many months, he sees a corpse in the mirror. The look in his eyes as he stares at himself never leaves him. It speaks of the horror he has experienced and seen, which stole his childhood innocence and his faith in God’s mercy and justice. When the Jews from Sighet arrive in Auschwitz and notice the large chimney stacks with thick, heavy, dark grey smoke coming out of the top and the ghastly smell of burning flesh and realize what the Nazis are doing-burning the bodies of the dead and weak. This depiction causes the reader to become sickened and disgusted, this keeps the Jews in constant reminder that imminent death is upon them. In just three short days Elie and his family had to pick up their whole life and were forced to move into a “ghetto.” “The race towards death had begun.” (Wiesel 28) Wiesel is depicting how quickly the liquidation process actually took place and how his life in Sighet took a turn for the worse. His use of metaphor is ironic because normally one wants to win a race, but in this case some are fighting against the grasping hand of death that was creeping upon them. Also exemplifying a metaphor Wiesel writes that “They were the first faces of hell and death.” (Wiesel 37) Wiesel is comparing the faces of the Gestapo to the demons of hell. His uses of metaphors form a cold tone for the reader. Wiesel uses anaphora to emphasize the novel’s major theme—to never forget. Wiesel writes several times in this passage “Never shall I forget.” “Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith for ever. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky” (Wiesel 52). Wiesel appeals to the somber emotions of the audience by reminiscing on the gruesome occurrences that changed his life forever; he emphasis this by further repeating it. He wants his readers to never forget the hell and hardships that his people were faced with. Provoking a horrifying sentiment, Wiesel reminisces about how he will never forget the small faces of the children, whose bodies he saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky and the nocturnal silence that deprived him for all eternity for the desire to live. “I pray to the God within me for the strength to ask Him the real questions.” (Wiesel 5) Wiesel lost his faith, friends, family, and his life for such a long time, but he never sought to avenge those who once tortured him. Through his rhetorical strategies, Wiesel shows that the tragic events of the Holocaust should never be forgotten.

Works Cited:
Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print.

Cited: Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print.

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