Night Study Questions

8 August 2016

Dehumanization played a significant role throughout Elie Wiesel’s “Night”. In many historic references to the Holocaust the killing of the Jews were described as “methodical and systematical”(The Jewish Outreach Institute), though this is true, these heinous crimes were made even worse by the dehumanizing and appalling treatment and conditions that the Jews were put through. Here are some examples: The people of Sighet faced horrifying conditions during their deportation to the death camp Auschwitz. They were transported in cattle cars for 4 days with almost no food or water, poor ventilation, crowded space, and unsanitary conditions.

As Wiesel later wrote ” Life in the cattle cars was the death of my adolescence. “(Aikman, p. 326. ) According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the definition of dehumanization is “to deprive of human qualities, personality, or spirit”. That is what happened to Wiesel and many others upon the arrival of Auschwitz. They were forced to strip naked, then doused with petrol and had their hair cut off. After standing outside in the freezing cold the worst was yet to come for 15 year old Wiesel. He was tattooed on his left arm with a number that would soon become his identity.

Night Study Questions Essay Example

One of the worst things about the dehumanization that Wiesel faced is not only did he have to endure such cruelty but that it succeeded in stripping him of his virtues and self. This happened, on some level, to all of the Holocaust victims; a sad truth that is shown in the journey to Buchenwald. Riding once again in a roofless cattle wagon with no food or privacy, the Jewish prisoners were little more than mindless, frozen bodies. When a loaf of bread was thrown in the car by some German workman as a sick experiment the prisoners reacted like beastly savages trying to get at the food.

A son even killed his father for a small piece of bread! 2. After Eliezer’s father was beaten by Idek, a Kapo, Eliezer says, “I had watched the whole scene without moving. I kept quiet. In fact I was thinking of how to get farther away so that I would not be hit myself. What is more, any anger I felt at that moment was directed, not against the Kapo, but against my father. I was angry with him, for not knowing how to avoid Idek’s outbreak. That is what concentration camp life had made of me. ” Discuss what the last line signifies. Discuss how his attitude had changed.

The last line “That is what concentration life has made of me” signifies that Eliezer realizes that his life in the concentration camp has degraded him to the point that he would stand aside as his father is beaten and even blame him for not somehow avoiding the Kapo’s anger. This is another example of how Eliezer and many other prisoners were dehumanized. They became so accustomed to the violence and cruelty of the German soldiers that they began to avoid it at all costs even becoming indifferent to the well-being of their loved ones and fellow Jews.

At first, Eliezer was inseparable from his father, creating distractions to keep him from the crematory and sharing his rations with him. Overtime, after repeatedly facing the random cruelties, he begins avoiding the punishments as much as possible and focusing more on his own survival. Eliezer’s anger toward his father getting beat by Idek shows that the brutality of the death camps has changed his attitude to the point that he no longer focuses on the cruelty of the beating but on how to avoid it. 3. Discuss why you think the townspeople remained complacent despite the advance of the German army.

I believe there are many reasons that the townspeople remained complacent despite the advance of the German army. One of the main reasons being the people of Sighet were receiving news that the Red Army would defeat the approaching Germans quickly before they could reach the town. Another reason the townspeople might not have moved was because they did not believe that Hitler’s German regime could annihilate the whole Jewish population that is spread throughout so many nations. The townspeople of Sighet also could not comprehend how the Germans would exterminate them and with what means.

They thought, “This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. ” Since the war seemed so far away the Jews of Sighet remained optimistic despite Moishe the Beadle’s warnings. To many of them, including Eliezer’s father, it was not worth liquidating their lives in Sighet to move to another country over the possibility of what Hitler promised. Even as the German army came closer and closer the townspeople did not believe the Germans would come that far for strategic and political reasons. 4. Discuss why Eliezer lied to Stein, his relative, about Stein’s family.

Discuss whether or not you think he was morally right. When Stein, a forgotten relative, approached Eliezer and his father on their eight day of living in the concentration camp, Auschwitz, he wanted information on his wife and two kids whom Eliezer’s mother had corresponded with in the past. Stein and his family had been separated two years ago and he desperately wanted to know how they were doing. While Eliezer did not have any knowledge about Stein’s family, caught between indecision, he decided to lie. He said that they had been in correspondence and the family was doing well.

Although this information brought Stein to tears of joy I do not believe he was morally right. Eliezer was in a difficult situation caught between telling the truth that might destroy Stein or lying which might give him hope and a reason to survive. Part of Eliezer’s decision to lie was derived from his religious past. He wanted to bring Stein some happiness by lying instead of causing him pain by telling the truth. Eliezer probably also considered the fact that the chances of both Stein and his family surviving were very slim so either one or both of them would die before the real news could reach them.

In my opinion, Eliezer’s decision to lie was morally poor. Instead of causing Stein despair he gave him false optimism. Eliezer should have realized that even though he temporarily gave Stein hope once he found out the truth it would be more even more upsetting to have his hope crushed. If Eliezer had given Stein the truth in the first place he might have caused him to get discouraged but Stein probably had low hopes of his family’s survival in the first place. Discovering the reality of their situation with the false optimism that his family was alive was too much for Stein.

So although Eliezer’s lie was meant as an act of goodwill in the end it was based on poor morals which caused more harm than good. 5. Discuss the significance of “night” in the novel. Cite examples from the story to support your answer. Reading Wiesel’s novel “Night” has given me a brief idea of the horrors that young Eliezer experienced during the Holocaust. Although my literary experience of one of the darkest periods in human history hardly gives me a solid ground to compare to what Wiesel and the millions of other Jews have been through I can definitely relate this memoir with the significant symbol “night”.

The symbol “night” seem to be an underlying theme throughout the whole novel. Wiesel refers to it many times as seen in the following passages: “[… ] [W]e no longer thought about anything. The verdict had been delivered. That evening, our mother made us go to bed early. To conserve our strength, she said. It was to be the last night spent in our house. (Wiesel 43) “Some pressed against the bars to see. There was nothing. Only the darkness of night. ” (Wiesel 50) “The night seemed endless. “( Wiesel 51) “NEVER SHALL I FORGET that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.

Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never. “( Wiesel 59) “So many events had taken place in just a few hours that I had completely lost all notion of time.

When had we left our homes? And the ghetto? And the train? Only a week ago? One night? One single night? “( Wiesel 62) “Why, but why would I bless Him? Every fiber in me rebelled. Because He caused thousands of children to burn in His mass graves? Because He kept six crematoria working day and night, including Sabbath and the Holy Days? “( Wiesel 92) “How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in the furnaces? “( Wiesel 92)

“We were all going to die here. All limits had been passed. No one had any strength left. And again the night would be long. ” (Wiesel 98) ” It was cold. We got into our bunks. The last night in Buna. Once more, the last night. The last night at home, the last night in the ghetto, the last night in the cattle car, and, now, the last night in Buna. How much longer would our lives be lived from one “last night” to the next? “( Wiesel 108) “The gates of the camp opened. It seemed as though an even darker night was waiting for us on the other side. “(Wiesel 109)

“Pressed tightly against one another, in an effort to resist the cold, our heads empty and heavy, our brains a whirlwind of decaying memories. Our minds numb with indifference. Here or elsewhere, what did it matter? Die today or tomorrow, or later? The night was growing longer, never-ending. “( Wiesel 123) “WE RECEIVED no food. We lived on snow; it took the place of bread. The days resembled the nights, and the nights left in our souls the dregs of their darkness. “( Wiesel 125) “The lament spread from wagon to wagon. It was contagious. And now hundreds of cries rose at once.

The death rattle of an entire convoy with the end approaching. All boundaries had been crossed. Nobody had any strength left. And the night seemed endless. “(Wiesel 128) All these examples can be used to expound upon different meanings of the symbolic word “night”. It could refer to the fear and mystery that the dark night brought to the prisoners or the horrible and unspeakable things that occurred at night. Maybe Wiesel used the title “Night” to represent how the world was silent as millions were exterminated or how the Holocaust seemed to be a never ending night that enveloped them in darkness and sorrow with no hope of light.

The title “night” can also be explained by Wiesel’s religious views, the darkening of his faith as he witnessed more and more evil. Perhaps “night” refers to one particular night like his first night in the camp, the night his father died, or both of them! Personally, the passage that to me showed the significance of night was the Preface to the New Translation, particularly this following part: “Writing in my mother tongue—at that point close to extinction—I would pause at every sentence, and start over and over again. I would conjure up other verbs, other images, other silent cries.

It still was not right. But what exactly was “it”? “It” was something elusive, darkly shrouded for fear of being usurped, profaned. All the dictionary had to offer seemed meager, pale, lifeless. Was there a way to describe the last journey in sealed cattle cars, the last voyage toward the unknown? Or the discovery of a demented and glacial universe where to be inhuman was human, where disciplined, educated men in uniform came to kill, and innocent children and weary old men came to die? Or the countless separations on a single fiery night, the tearing apart of entire families, entire communities?

Or, incredibly, the vanishing of a beautiful, well-behaved little Jewish girl with golden hair and a sad smile, murdered with her mother the very night of their arrival? How was one to speak of them without trembling and a heart broken for all eternity? ” I believe that “it” can be interpreted as “night”. As Wiesel stated in the passage above, there are no words to summarize what him and millions of other Jews have been through. The word “night” has no significance until you realize that it is not a simple word but a representation of all the pain and suffering that took place during the Holocaust.

The significance of the word “night” is unimportant itself but what it represents should never be forgotten. 6. Explain the author’s meaning when he says after the handing of the youth from Warsaw that “the soup tasted excellent that evening,” yet after the pipel was hanged, “the soup tasted of corpses. ” As a Jew living in a death camp during the Holocaust Eliezer witnessed and experienced brutality and death on a daily basis. In order to survive the exposure to such horrors Wiesel and other prisoners either consciously or subconsciously learned to look the other way to numb themselves from the pain.

To focus on the death and the dead and dying would be a death sentence itself. So when the youth from Warsaw were hanged it did not affect Wiesel that much because that was the violent environment he had grown used to. He knew that although the boys from Warsaw were still young in age they had 3 years in the concentration camps behind them and most likely knew what the consequences would be when they broke the rules. On the other hand the pipel was a young boy with an angelic face that was beloved by all.

Even though most pipels were often cruel and hated, this one and the Dutch Oberkapo he served, were loved like brothers by their prisoners. The young pipel and Dutch Oberkapo were accused of possession of weapons and although they both were tortured for weeks neither gave names. When Eliezer along with several thousands of other inmates watched the pipel’s hanging all began weeping, even the SS were bothered by the act. For more than half an hour they watched the child suffer before them because his body was not heavy enough to suffocate him instantly.

As Wiesel was forced to march by and look at him in close range, the pipel was still alive. Not only did the horrible image remain with Wiesel but the pipel was also a representation of all the innocents that were being slaughtered by the Nazi army. This appalling act broke through the numbness that Eliezer had used as a shield. Instead of concerning himself solely with food and avoiding punishment, that night as he ate the soup with the image of the dead pipel in his mind, the soup tasted of corpses.

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