Analysis of Night by Elie Wiesel

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Analysis of Night by Elie Wiesel


Night is a memoir written by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, and his experiences at the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Buchenwald work camp during World War II.


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Night was originally published in French in 158 and was written in memory of Elie Wiesel’s parents and his little sister, Tzipora. The book is written in chronological order beginning at Wiesel’s childhood home in Sighet, Transylvania toward the end of 141. Wiesel was 15 years old when his family was transferred to the Jewish ghetto in the Spring of 144. Shortly thereafter the family was transported to the concentration camps in Poland. They arrived at Auschwitz where Wiesel and his father were separated from his mother and sisters. Wiesel and his father were sent to the labor camp and his mother and sisters were sent to the gas chamber.

At the end of the war in 145, Elie Wiesel spent a few years in a French orphanage. In 148, he began to study literature, philosophy and psychology in Paris at the Sorbonne. He became a journalist at that time and wrote for a French newspaper. Since 176, Wiesel has served as Andrew Mellon Professor of Humanities at Boston University. President Jimmy Carter appointed Wiesel Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in 178. In 185, Wiesel was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement and a year later he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Night would be of interest to anyone who is interested in learning more about a survivors experience during the Holocaust. It would also attract admirers of Elie Wiesel and readers of the more than forty books he has written.


Night is a short yet intensely powerful book and is relatively easy to read. The chapters flow from one to the other. The language is simple and less dense for the young adult reader to easily comprehend. It is written from an adult perspective looking back to his childhood. The writer has had time to reflect on his experiences, the writing is dispassionate without emotion. The tone of the book is stated matter of factly. “And I did not know that in that place, at that moment, I was parting from my mother and Tzipora forever. I went on walking. My father held onto my hand.” (Wiesel, pg. 7) The major characters in the book were Elie Wiesel and his father, Chlomo Wiesel.


Wiesel imposed a ten-year vow of silence upon himself before he attempted to disclose his experiences at the death camps. He has since dedicated his life to ensuring that no one forgets what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. Night is a powerful story that needed to be told to educate our children so that we never allow this kind of horror to be repeated.

Summary of Night by Elie Wiesel

Night is a moving memoir of Elie Wiesel’s experience in the death camps. The book shows how life in the concentration camps changed many into something less than human and tests their faith. The conditions in the camps made men do things they normally wouldn’t do.

In May, 144 the deportations began in Sighet, the Wiezel’s were among the last Jews to be loaded into the cattle cars, with one hundred people in one car. After four days, the train stopped at Auschwitz. Wiesel, then 15, followed the instructions of a fellow prisoner and told the SS officer that he was eighteen and in good health. He and his father were sent to be slave laborers. His mother and younger sister were taken to the gas chambers. Wiesel and his father survived first Auschwitz and then the Buna labor camp. They endured beatings, hunger, roll calls and other torture while they were in the camps.

One of the most unforgettable moments in the book was in Chapter 7. In the winter of 144, Wiesel’s foot swells up and he has to have an operation to prevent it from being amputated. Two days later, the SS forced the inmates of Buna on a death march. The prisoners are forced to run in the cold and snow, they are shot if they fall behind. They keep running through the night, it is impossible to slow down because there are so many people in the mob. Then they are crammed into freight cars and sent to Buchenwald. Inside the train there are bodies, both dead and alive, tangled up in each other. Each time the train stops, SS officers order that the corpses be thrown out of the car. Two men begin to throw Wiesel’s father out of the train, but Wiesel revives him by slapping him viciously and screaming desperately in his face. The prisoners travel for ten days, eating only snow. They finally reach their destination alive and Wiesel’s father becomes ill. He dies a few days later after a guard shatters his skull with a club.

There is no more story to tell after Wiesel’s father dies. Nothing mattered anymore. On April 11, the Americans come and the camp is liberated. Wiesel looks into a mirror for the first time since he was in the ghetto and sees a corpse looking back.

Personal Reaction

Elie Wiesel is a Holocaust survivor and humanitarian. Since the end of World War II Wiesel has made an enormous contribution toward enlightening the world to the horrors of the Holocaust. He has devoted his life to educating society through his experiences in order to prevent another Holocaust from happening. Wiesel is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and has written numerous novels. I greatly admire Elie Wiesel for rising above the hatred and evil and turning his horrendous experiences into benefiting our society and ensuring that the atrocities that took place during World War II never happen in the future.

Many who have suffered the injustices that Wiesel has might seek revenge. Others may withdraw from life altogether. Elie Wiesel’s life has become a shining example of an alternative to the cycle of violence and retaliation. He has demonstrated that he will not be a victim, but a true survivor. He has devoted his life to teaching others how to forgive in an unforgiving world.

Even though he believes in peace, Wiesel supports President Bush’s policy of eradicating terrorism. He is opposed to war but is in favor of the military intervention in Iraq because of Saddam Hussein’s violations of human rights. I agree with Wiesel in that we have a moral obligation to intervene where evil is in control. We must not let a megalomaniac like Saddam Hussein inflict his terror upon the innocent people of Iraq.

In 186 Elie Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in improving the living conditions, and promoting the understanding and global acceptance of Jews. During Wiesel’s Nobel lecture he states “Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other.” His message speaks of peace, atonement and human dignity. Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion, established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity shortly after he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. The Foundation seeks to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice. Wiesel has taken on the role of messenger to promote peace throughout the world.

Wiesel has written numerous books about the Holocaust in a way that makes you actually feel like you are right there with him. He has written numerous essays and articles all of which are a piece of his life. Wiesel’s more than forty books have won numerous awards. His books are autobiographical and are formed by his past experiences. They should be read in the order that they were written. Night was the first in a series of books that Wiesel wrote.

I feel Wiesel is a man to be held in high regard and respected because he has dedicated his life to being a humanitarian and teaching others to never forget the past and to learn from the horrible experiences that he and many others endured in the concentration camps. I believe education is a key factor in making society aware of the perils of evil and the consequences of racial bigotry and hatred. Knowledge can be a powerful tool that should be used for the benefit of society not the destruction. We must not let history repeat itself and allow another mass extermination of mankind.

Wiesel is in the second row of bunks, seventh from the left.

Elie Wiesel (18 - )

Work Cited

Schoenberg, Shira. “Elie Wiesel”. Jewish Virtual Library. Sept. 00.


Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York, NY Hill & Wang, 160.

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