Night by Elie Wiesel Main Ideas in Term Paper
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Night by Elie Wiesel [...] main ideas in the book and thesis of the Author, and then provide an evaluation of the book. Wiesel's book "Night" is a moving and poignant account of this time spent in German concentration camps during World War II. He chronicles how he managed to survive while so many other Jews perished, and what it meant to his family and his life. The extermination of Jews during the Holocaust was one of the world's greatest tragedies, and books like Wiesel's keep the history alive so no one will ever forget what these people endured at the hands of madmen.
The author's thesis and reason for writing this book is quite clear. He wanted the world to know what he saw and experienced as a young boy, and how it colored his world forever. He lost his entire family to the Nazis, and came away from the concentration camps a survivor, but a bitter and disenchanted one, and it is difficult to blame him for his bitterness. Throughout the book, there is a dark feeling of hopelessness and unreality. It seems difficult to believe that anyone could be so vile and so utterly devoid of conscience as to send millions of Jews to their deaths.
However, there is another compelling thesis the author introduces as the book progresses, and that is the thesis of his own gradual disillusionment with his God and his religious beliefs. When the book opens, he was a devout Jew who cried when he prayed. By the time the book ends, he is a bitter young man who turns his back on the God that turned his back on the Jews. He writes, "I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone - terribly alone in a world without God and without man" (Wiesel 79). Thus, his secondary thesis is quite clear. He no longer believes in a God who can let his people suffer so needlessly, and he ends his story with the desolate speech, "From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me" (Wiesel 127). This is not meant to be a happy and uplifting book, and the theses the author includes make sure the reader knows this book will be depressing and dark, just as the days spent in the concentration camps were depressing and dark.
Other than the two main theses Wiesel incorporates in his book, there are many other ideas and thoughts combined to make up the rest of the book. One thing Wiesel carefully records is how families are torn apart forever, and many never make it home to their loved ones, or even know the fate of their missing family members. He writes of his own separation from his mother and sister, "And at did not know that in that place, at that moment, I was parting from my mother and Tzipora forever" (Wiesel 39). This is a heart-wrenching scene that leaves the reader feeling the pain and suffering the young boy must have felt at the time. He also watches his father die just days before American forces finally liberate the camps. Clearly, these happenings had a profound effect on this young boy, and it is easy to see how his outlook altered as he survived longer and longer.
Another main idea woven throughout the book is the absolute cruelty of the Nazis. It permeates the pages, and indicates just why Wiesel lost his faith. He writes of the constant hangings of Jews who ignored the rules of the camps, "Where is God now?' And I heard a voice within me answer him: 'Where is He? Here He is - He is hanging here on this gallows...'" (Wiesel 76). He wants the reader to understand just how cruel the Nazis were, so there are many other scenes, such as his gold crown being forcibly pried from his mouth with a rusty spoon. Then there is literally nothing to eat but scraps of bread, the brutal punishment of the entire camp for the slightest infraction, such as forcing them to stand at attention naked in the snow, and the rape of a Polish girl by a Nazi guard. He writes with great
...For example, he states, "How long had we been standing like this in the icy wind? An hour? Simply an hour? Sixty minutes? Surely it was a dream" (Wiesel 47). Sadly, it is not a dream, and it goes on for years.
Another important theme in the book is the loss of family. Wiesel is not the only child to lose his entire family, he writes of many others who are broken when they receive news their family is missing or gone forever. This not only shows the terror of the camps, but also indicates just how families were utterly broken during World War II. Entire branches of Jewish families simply disappeared, and the face of family was changed forever in European Jewish communities. This theme is also a constant presence in the book, and makes the reader think about the long-term affects of the war on the people in Europe. They not only lost their families, they lost entire generations of young people and old people. They lost their historians, their young families, and everything in between. It would take generations to rebuild the losses, and some would never be rebuilt. It is only now that we are even beginning to truly understand the full impact of the Holocaust not only on the people, but also on the society of the world. Knowing that these atrocities can exist is frightening enough. To know they still exist in many countries is even more frightening, and even more reason that more people should read books like "Night." They may be stunned, appalled, and even sickened, but they will understand what a true Holocaust really is, and what "racial cleansing" really means. It means murder, torture, evil, suffering, and pain. All these things are an important part of Wiesel's book, and they stun the reader with their viciousness and evil enjoyment. How can people be so cruel to one another? God only knows.
This book is certainly well written from a literary standpoint, but that is not the real purpose for writing the book. Certainly the author wanted people to know and understand his horrible experience, and how many Jews were lost, so the book's focus is not on its' literary qualities, but on the content and making it readable for the greatest number of readers. Wiesel has certainly accomplished that goal.
Unfortunately, the author is entirely qualified to write this book, because he endured everything that he chronicles in the novel. He lived through years in the concentration camps in Germany, and he writes of his memories with emotion and a great sense of loss. There could be few more qualified to write of these experiences, because so few Jews actually survived the Holocaust, and then wanted to talk about it. The book indicates that this experience molded and shaped his young life, and he was never the same afterwards. His personality seems as dark and as brooding as this book is, and it is easy to see why. His personality definitely comes through in the pages of the book, partly because this is a book of personal experience, and partly because it is a book of such magnitude and disturbing content. It would be difficult to write this type of book without including some part of your personality, and Wiesel is no exception.
The information in the book is extremely accurate, especially when comparing it with other studies of the Holocaust and the experiences of people in the concentration camps. It is well established that the Nazis were exceptionally cruel masters, who enjoyed torturing and tormenting their victims. Reading other books on the Holocaust and other Jew's experiences in the concentration camps only corroborate the information Wiesel includes in this disturbing book. It is difficult to read of these experiences and not feel anger, pain, and disbelief. However, what may be most disturbing is that these things actually happened, and went on for many years until the war ended.
Any assumptions or conclusions an author makes are open to controversy, but it is difficult to refute this author's writing, because this is a very personal experience, and because so many others who also suffered at the hands of the Nazis have corroborated the experience. There are some who believe the Holocaust never happened, and perhaps they would not believe this book, either. However, the question remains. Why would so many people have the same experiences in the concentration camps, and why would they band together to lie about it afterwards? There are hundreds of other accounts that…
Sources Used in Documents:
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Discus Books, 1970.
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