Death is considered to be only a philosophical issue, until a person meets it face-to-face. When somebody dies, it affects all, who have ever known him or her. What if hundreds of people die every day during several years while others are silent?
Elie Wiesel, a man, who was between life and death for several times, tells us about this phenomenon in his book of memories called â€œNightâ€. Narrating from the first person helps the readers to understand deeper the suffering of the little boy, his family, relatives, friends and the whole nation, and to empathize them. This book covers the period of the Second World War, but from another side – from the perspective of the Jewish man, who became the victim of Holocaust, a â€œmarch of deathâ€.
At the first glance the protagonist is a young boy, teenager Elie, who narrates the dramatic story of his nation â€“ Jews. However, when the novel is read up to the end you start to understand, that the main hero in this book is not a little boy, it is Death in all the forms. Besides, this word is used dozens of times to emphasize its fatality and multiple meanings. The Jewish children became the witnesses of murdering their fathers, uncles, mothers, sistersâ€¦ Parents watched how their children were being murdered. Let us recall the occasion when Bela Katz â€œhimself put his father’s body into the crematory ovenâ€ (27) â€“ â€œfactory of deathâ€. It is the only one example of thousands similar ones.
The main goal of Holocaust was to destroy the whole nation, including little children, who were just thrown away by Nazis. Eliezer asks himself: â€œI could not believe it. How could it be possible for them to burn people, children, and the world to keep silent?â€ (25). One of the most horrible murders was hanging the young boy â€“ the â€œsad-eyed angelâ€ â€“ at Buna. This scene was so impressive, that â€œthat night the soup tasted of corpsesâ€ (49).
Elie Wiesel carries allegedly his reader through all the circles of hell to show the changing of person’s relationship to the concept of death. Each of these circles causes more and more fear in a reader. The drama of the plot increases, beginning from the ghetto, where â€œa Jew no longer had the right to keep in his house gold, jewels, or any objects of value. Everything had to be handed over to the authorities – on pain of deathâ€ (9) and ending at the most horrible place on the Earth â€“ concentration camp Buchenwald and the complete destruction of the whole nation with the help of lawless methods. There was no one who would enjoy his life in the camps. Homeless, completely destroyed people just struggled for some meal to help themselves to exist.
The main and the most terrible fact is the death of God and faith in people’s mind and hearts. At the very beginning of the novel Elie is eager to study Kabbalah and Talmud. All his thoughts are devoted to God. During his fatal “trip” the attitude to God significantly changes. Almost every day he sees the killing of innocents. And people, who used to be religious, now are questioning â€œWhere is God?â€ According to the words of one man, â€œHere He is – He is hanging here on this gallowsâ€ (49). Eliezer himself notes the death of God in his soul. A human being, who loses faith, is transformed to a living being. Then it is not clear what is better: to live or to die.
Gestapo officers were just people, who did not have any right to judge other human beings, more over to murder them in such a crude way. Jewish nation suffers, it doubts, but it remembers â€œGod of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacobâ€ (3). The Jewish people cry out to Him. The question is where is the Nazism’s God? Does he exist? That man, who was considered as supernatural, â€œin His great mind He had created Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, and so many factories of death” (50). For SS officers Hitler was a God, but for the whole Planet he was a devil, who brought darkness, devastation and death. Hitler and his soulless army wanted to separate families that had always been holy for the Jewish people. SS officers made people become the competitors in the struggle for existence. School survival was reduced to the fact that prisoners had only basic instincts: to eat and to sleep.
The only thing that gave Eli inspiration to fight and to go ahead was his father’s life, who tried not to leave his son even for a minute. At the very beginning of selection his family was separated by “Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight short, simple wordsâ€ (23). When Elie’s father died he understood that his life does not have any sense without the family: “After my father’s death, nothing could touch me anymore” (80). He was not alone in such opinion. Let us remember Stein of Antwerp, Wiesel’s relative, whose life continued till he knew that his wife and children are dead. When he learned the real news, no one saw him anymore.
The author does not accidentally calls his work “Night”. This word has a very deep symbolic significance. It is a time for devil and his murders, when the entire planet sleeps and does not see this horror. In the novel night lasts permanently. It does not finish: “Yet another last night. The last night at home, the last night in the ghetto, the last night in the train, and, now, the last night in Buna. How much longer were our lives to be dragged out from one ‘last night’ to another?” (62). The novel is absolutely devoid of bright colors. Black tones dominate here, where the “Angel of death” reigns, as the author calls it. Repeatedly he stood in front of Elie’s face.
Elie Wiesel does not criticize anybody for his people’s suffering. He just shows a terrible picture of an endless night, in the foreground of which we see the bloody murders of innocent people, horrible burnings in crematoria, destruction and oppression of Jewish traditions.