Watch Elie Wiesel's Dramatic Monologue Lets The Essay
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Elie Wiesel's dramatic monologue lets the reader see him as the young Jewish boy in a Hungarian village and as a mature man who revisits that past, in memory and in fact. The narrative is especially poignant as it begins just after Wiesel's bar mitzvah, the formal declaration of his entry into manhood -- the time when he assumed all the responsibilities that adulthood can press up a thirteen-year-old boy. From that jubilant ceremony, Wiesel is plunged into unimaginable horror. The link between Wiesel's two lives is a gold watch that he received in honor of his successful transition into adulthood. Yet the young man is no more able to protect his family from the Holocaust than were his elders. Their collective wisdom -- developed over a lifetime of being Jewish in a land where their religion was a liability and the practice of their religion was a death sentence -- was insufficient to grant the foresight and feed the resolve to abandon their homeland.
...The use of watch is metonymy, in that, the watch maintains a vigil when Wiesel cannot. The watch, as material things so often do, survives the family and a way of life. And when Wiesel returns to his native place, the watch is there to greet him -- it, too, as a survivor. Wiesel's gold watch is symbolic of the treasure that a young man is to his family and community, of the life he forcibly left behind, and the passage of time during which Wiesel lived apart from his home. The watch, in Wiesel's words, offered the promise of "an epilogue" to his childhood. He could not dig out the earth the closure that he sought. The elapsed time could not be recaptured, nor could the course of events be changed any more than turning back the clock brings anything more than a virtual time -- not a time that was, but a representation of a time that had already passed. The effort of digging up the watch with his unprotected hands, using his fingers instead of tools, is symbolic of his survival of the Holocaust. He survived by chance and because he was hardy, resilient, and determined. With the same mindset, Wiesel attacks the earth to take back what was stolen from him -- his watch and the normal life he anticipated. It is ironic…
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