The Nazis of Germany rose to power in 1933, and were the executors of a genocide that took six million Jewish lives. This bureaucratic execution was part of a regime that believed the Germans were purebloods, and therefore, racially superior making the Jews inferior and a threat to the supposed German racial community. Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, is well known for his memoir, Night, which is a consolidated version of his experiences during this time of terror. Night is the account of a child who survives the death camps, yet it also follows the protagonist, Eliezer’s passionate voyage from a trusting Orthodox Jewish kid to a significantly upset young man who questions the presence of God and, by augmentation, the humanity of man. In his memoir, Wiesel is able to portray the deterioration of one’s self respect in response to injustice through the development of Eliezer, a young boy who loses his innocence when faced with cruelty, as self- preservation becomes his highest virtue. While Night is Elie Wiesel’s declaration about his encounters in the Holocaust, Wiesel is not, unequivocally, the story’s protagonist. He uses the technique of a narrator to somewhat distance himself from his experiences and look in from the outside, while also managing to document the emotional truth alongside the reality of the physical and historical events.
Firstly, Wiesel articulates Eliezer’s love and solidarity for the bond between a father and son to be a stronger force than his instinct for self- respect and survival. Eliezer is sickened with the terrible childishness he sees around him, particularly when it includes the crack of familial bonds. On three occasions, he specifies children appallingly abusing fathers: in his concise discourse of the pipel who mishandled his dad; his loathsome decision about the thought processes of Rabbi Eliahou’s child; and his portrayal of the battle for nourishment that he witnesses on the trek to Buchenwald, in which a child pounds the life out of his dad. These snapshots of remorselessness are incited by the conditions the detainees are compelled to persevere. With a specific end goal to spare themselves, these children forfeit their fathers.
Regardless of the adoration and care he has shown his father, Eliezer feels that he has by one means or another relinquished his dad for his own security. Eliezer’s portrayals of his conduct toward his dad appear to nullify his liable emotions. He relies upon his dad for help, and his adoration for his dad enables him to persevere. During the long run to Gleiwitz, he says, “My father’s presence was the only thing that stopped me from allowing myself to die. . . .
I had no right to let myself die. What would he do without me? I was his only support” (87). This showcases that Eliezer’s father was his rock during the outbreak of all the chaos and as long as his father was alive, Eliezer was able to maintain respect in himself, in God, and in the betterment of humanity. Secondly, Eliezer experiences injustice when him and other undesirables are famished and malnourished as a type of discipline for essentially being themselves; a blow to his self respect and the first cracks the reader witnesses in Eliezer’s resolve. Subsequent to encountering such mercilessness, Eliezer can never again understand his reality. His disappointment comes about because of his difficult involvement with Nazi mistreatment, but also from the brutality he sees fellow detainees dispense on each other.
Eliezer further winds up because he is mindful of the brutality of which he himself is capable of. All that he encounters in the constant bloodshed demonstrates to him how frightfully individuals can treat each other—a disclosure that bothers him profoundly. Moreover, Night exhibits that savagery breeds savagery.
Rather than supporting each other during trouble, the detainees react to their conditions by betraying each other. Near the end of the account, a Kapo says to Eliezer, “Here, each man needs to battle for himself and not consider any other person. .
. . Here, there are no fathers, no siblings, no companions. Everybody lives and passes on for himself alone (110).
” It is noteworthy that a Kapo makes this comment to the narrator, in light of the fact that Kapos were themselves detainees put accountable for other detainees. They delighted in a generally better— however still ghastly— personal satisfaction in the camp, yet they helped the Nazi mission and regularly carried on remorselessly toward prisoners in their charge. Toward the start of the fifth segment, Eliezer alludes to them as “functionaries of death.” The Kapos’ position symbolizes the way the Holocaust’s savagery reared pitilessness in its casualties, turning individuals against each other, as self-respect and self preservation became the most noteworthy virtue. Finally, Eliezer’s lack of self respect is accentuated through the deterioration of his belief in God. At the beginning of the book, his faith in God is absolute and allows his self-respect to remain intact; however, as the novel progresses it is clear that Eliezer gradually loses faith in God, shaken from the monstrosities he experiences amidst the Holocaust. “For the first time, he feels anger rising within him”.
He questions, “Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for?” ( 33). In this quote, Eliezer is brimmed with contempt as the God he was so faithful to surrenders him when he is liable to mercilessness. This forces him to omit religion out of his life, as he cannot acknowledge the silent treatment from God and consequently, opposes his religious childhood. It is questionable whether Elie’s faith in God completely diminishes; however, there is evidence that he changed endlessly from his past highly religious self. Only in the lowest moments of his confidence does he completely turn his back on God.
Indeed, when Eliezer says that he has abandoned God totally, Wiesel’s consistent utilization of religious illustrations undermines what Eliezer says he accepts. Eliezer even alludes to scriptural sections when he denies his beliefs. When he fears that he may desert his dad, he appeals to God, and, after his dad’s passing, he expresses regret that there was no religious remembrance. Toward the finish of the book, despite the fact that he has been perpetually changed by his Holocaust encounter, Eliezer emerges with his faith intact. Short glimpses of Eliezer addressing and questioning God are seen, one example of this displayed in the following narration, “I knew that my sins grieved the Almighty and so I pleaded for forgiveness”(68).
Here, the reader additionally observes the opposing conduct Eliezer displays by pleading for forgiveness due to the extensive guilt he bears upon his passive actions during the Holocaust. This reminiscence of Elie Wiesel’s experience has been documented for the world to read. After the Holocaust ended, the surviving Jews were somewhat lost and newly acquainted with another world that was not inviting to them until some time recently. It is ironic that Wiesel chooses to call his book, Night because this is symbolic of a world without God yet Eliezer’s faith remains intact even after some instances that make him question his existence. One could say that whenever Eliezer makes a reference to the everlasting night is when his belief in God is at its weakest point. From his struggle to maintain his faith in a benign God to his experiences with injustice and inhumanity towards other humans, Wiesel is able to display the gradual disintegration of Eliezer’s self respect and how this influences his actions for survival.
Moreover, the reader is given the privilege to partake in Wiesel’s emotional journey, which ultimately, like his fellow prisoners, left him more dead than alive.