Elie Wiesel’s book, Night, is full of analogies. For example, the book opens with a comparison between the night sky and a concentration camp. The night sky is “black and infinite,” while the camp is “dark and finite.”
The book also compares the experience of being in a concentration camp to being in hell. In one analogy, Elie describes how he and his fellow prisoners were treated like animals. They were starved, beaten, and forced to live in conditions that were far below human standards.
Ultimately, the book is about the human capacity for hope and resilience in the face of even the most difficult circumstances. Through his use of analogies, Elie communicates the horror of his experiences in a way that is both powerful and unforgettable.
This book generated a lot of sympathetic and empathetic sentiments in me. Although harsh, the narrative depicted the lives of Jews and their suffering. “Night” is used throughout the book to symbolize death, spiritual darkness, and loss of faith. It appears frequently as an image. Even when the action takes place during the day, night may be invoked metaphorically.
For example, when Elie is talking about the selection process for who will live and who will die, he says that it’s as if “night had fallen.” This book is a great read for those who are looking to explore different aspects of WWII.
Empathy – “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”
Sympathy- “Feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.”
Allegory- “A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.”
Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is currently a part of Romania. When he was fifteen years old, he and his family were taken from their home in 1944 to Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald. Night is the story of his survival.
Consider all of the awful things that happen at night: Mrs. Schachter has her nightmares of fire, hell, and death; (Wiesel 24-27) Elie and his father come to Auschwitz where they see the smoke stacks and stand in line all night long with the stench of death on their breath; there’s the night when the soup tastes like corpses (67); they march through sleepless nights, one atop another, suffocating each other to death during the night. Elie’s father dies during the night (110-112).
The book Night, by Elie Wiesel, is a book about the author’s experience in concentration camps during the Holocaust. The book talks about some of the terrible things that happen at night.
Mrs. Schachter has her visions of fire, hell, and death; (Wiesel 24-27) Elie and his father arrive at Auschwitz and see the smokestacks and wait in line all night long with the smell of death in their noses; there is the night the soup tastes like corpses(67); they march through long nights and, stacked on top of each other, smother each other to death in the night; Elie’s father dies during the night (110-112).
“And the nights, like days, had their own flavor of darkness in our souls,” Elie states (100). Night is a metaphor for how the soul was submerged in anguish and despair. It symbolized the never-ending torture and death of these people.
And yet, “In the depth of night, I yearned for my book” (101). The book was a symbol of hope and sanity during these dark times. It was a reminder that there was still beauty and meaning in the world. Reading provided a moment of respite from the endless darkness.
Similarly, the night also represents death. In the concentration camps, death was always present. It was an ever-present danger lurking in the shadows. The prisoners were constantly living in fear of being killed. And yet, “I had already begun to feel that in spite of everything I still believed in man’s good side” (103). This belief gave them the strength to continue fighting, even in the face of such darkness.
Night can also be seen as a metaphor for the human capacity for evil. The Nazis inflicted such terrible atrocities on their prisoners, and yet they were still human beings. They were capable of feeling love and compassion, as well as hatred and cruelty. This capacity for both good and evil is what makes us human.
Night is thus a complex metaphor for the human experience. It represents both the darkness and the light that is within us all.
The usage of fire and flames to represent death was disturbing at times throughout the book’s depictions. Mrs. Schachter has a vision of fire and flames as the train filled with Jews from Sighet approaches Auschwitz in Chapter two. She screams about the fire for several hours on end, before repeating her cries the next night. When they eventually reach Auschwitz, passengers in the vehicle comprehend what she meant when she referred to crematoria: where people were burned after being murdered.
Later, in Chapter three, after Wiesel and his father have been moved to Buchenwald, they witness a public execution in which an inmate is hanged. As the man dangles from the noose, his body catches on fire. (59)
In both cases, these men died by fire. And in both cases, their deaths were witnessed by others who could do nothing to save them. The book uses these examples to contrast the powerlessness of the victims with the complete control of their murderers.
The view and the odor of crematoria pervade every aspect of life in the concentration camps, reminding the inmates of their proximity to death. There was never a time when peace dwelled with them while they were under German rule. Finally, the image of corpses is used not only to describe literal death, but also to symbolize spiritual annihilation. Elie sees himself in the mirror after being liberated from imprisonment for many months, since his days in the Ghetto.
One book that masterfully uses these night analogies is “Night” by Elie Wiesel. In it, Wiesel tells the story of his time in Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II. Through the use of metaphors and similes, he brings to life the horrific reality of life in the camps.