Night Night narrates Ely Wiesel’s test of faith and struggle for life through the horrors of the Holocaust. Twelve-year-old Elie and his family are packed into crowded cattle carts and shipped to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps. This is where Elie survives tragic events that cause him to question God who could let such suffering occur. In the memoir Night, three events that lead to Elie’s victory over death and questioning of the existence of God are when Elie and all the Jews are separated into different carts, Elie’s struggles in the concentration camps and the final death march.
Elie’s former teacher, Moshe the Beadle, comes to warn Elie and his family to not be tricked by the Germans, for they were taking control of trains and transporting them to death camps. Elie’s family doesn’t believe Moshe because his stories seemed exaggerated. Soon after, Elie’s family is forced to live in small ghettos in the center of the town. When the trains pulled up, there was no turning back. “The Hungarian police made us climb into the cars eighty persons in each one. They handed us some bread and a few pails of water” (Wiesel 22).
Elie realizes he and his family are not going to safety. When the train wheels stopped, there was a wretched stench of corpse bodies. They were in Birkeneau. He was shortly separated from his mother and sisters. This momentous event will forever change his family. His faith is massacred, “Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes” (Weisel 34). Elie and his father go through many horrific obstacles in the concentration camps.
One afternoon, Elie and his father are forced to watch a hanging of three condemned prisoners, two of which were grown men and the other an innocent child. The two men were no longer alive, but the child’s rope was still moving for he was to light and was still breathing. Elie questions himself, “How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in the furnaces” (Weisel 67).
After watching thousands of Jews die each day, Elie loses his faith in God completely. Before the war is over, the Germans try to eliminate as many Jews as they can before the Americans invade and free the Jews. Elie has just gotten out of the infirmary because of his infected foot. Elie is about to give up at this point, but he sticks through and survives the death march. After the death march had finally come to a rest, Elie’s father becomes very sick with dysentery.
After Elie’s father passes away, Elie is upset but is relieved. Elie is struck with food poisoning and spends weeks in the hospital, deathly ill. When he finally raises himself and looks in the mirror—he has not seen himself in a mirror since leaving Sighet—he is shocked: “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. ” Elie comes to realize, in the process of separating himself from the corpse, he has become, as a result of his time in the concentration camps, can coexist with faith, both in God and in man.
In each of the three events described, Elie must face major traumatic life changes that force him to question his belief in God. Despite these terrible struggles, Elie does not allow himself to be consumed with revenge and evil. He maintains goodness in his spirit. Ellie says, “And even when we were no longer hungry, not one of us thought of revenge” (Wiesel 115). If God is good and Elie is still (good) inside despite his sufferings, then God must still exist.
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