Essay on Night

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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Night is a horrible story of the genocide endured by the Jewish people during WW2 under the Nazis. Those people were cruelly dehumanized, treated like animals, deprived from their beliefs, and liquidated without reason other than that they were Jewish. However, the story is also filled with acts of compassion and the will to live amid the degradation and violence. Futhermore, the story underlines the love and loyalty between Elie and his father.

In Sighet, Elie and his family experience the horror and cruelty of Hitler's ant-semitic policies. After the Nazis arrive in Sighet, the persecution begins. Shops and synagogues are closed and Jews are forced to wear the yellow star to segregate them. Soon they are taken from their homes and confined to small ghettos, crowded together to narrow streets behind barbed-wire fences. Then deportation orders are issued, Jews are arowded into the streets in the hot sun and herded onto cattle wagons as if they were animals.

The conditons in the cattle wagons are miserable. Theu are tormented by the unbearablle heat, hunger, thirst, and the suffocating lack of air. Elie becomes aware that humanity's dark side has changed his life forever.

But when Elie and the other Jews are deported to the concentration camps, their suffering is even worse. Elie and his father are separated from Elie's mother. They proceed docilely to the selection. In the middle, Dr. Mengele stands, determining the destiny of the Jews whether they are going to live or die. When Elie and his father along with other prisoners are marching toward to the crematorium, they witness that the old men are being lead away to the crematorium, and the wagons of babies are being thrown into a ditch of fire. After Elie and his father manage to survive the selection, their individual identities are completely erased. They are shaved, disinfected with gasoline, and tattooed the numbers into their arms. The only way to dial with the constant abuse is to shut down all human emotions. "The instincts of self-preservation, of self-defense, of pride, had deserted us. Within a few seconds, we had ceased to be men." As Elie and the others are fully exposed to the horrible inhumanity of the Nazis, they are transformed from respected individuals to obedient like animals.

Elie and the others suffer physically, but they also suffer emotionally and spitirually. At the beginning of the book, Elie's faith in God is absolute. But this faith is irreparably shaken by the cruelty and evil he witnesses in the camps. The greatest torture for the prisoners is when they are forced to watch the hanging of a young child who struggles between life and death, dying in slow agony. At this point, Elie loses all faith in the existence of God. When someone askes where God is, he responds "Where is He? Here He is-He hanging here on this gallows..." This death of the innocent child also symbolizes the death of Elie's own childhood and innocence. Furthermore, prisoners are beginning to lose humanity and their sense of justice, becoming selfish. Rabbi Eliahou's son who abondons his own father for his survival, a son who kills his father for his bread. Similarly, Elie is beginnig to lose his sense of morals and values. When his father is beaten, Elie feels no pity, instead , he becomes angry at his father for failing to learn how to survive. Elie see that the Holocaust exposes the depths of cruelty, evil and selfishness of which everyone not only the Nazis, but also his fellow Jews, even himsef is capable. These emotional suffering and anguish take many forms, often more difficult to overcoome than physical pain.

However even though the novel is negative, there are also positive moments that demonstrate courage, strength and kindness. When Elie is beaten by the Kapo, the French girl comforts him, saying in Germany "Bite your lip, little brother...Don't cry. Keep your anger and hatred for abother day, for later on..." She reveals her true identy to Elie and risks her own survival. Similarly,two brothers, Yossi and Tibi,become Elie's friends. They share their dreams and encourage each other to survive the selection. The importance of friendship, brotherhood and care between prisoners shows that people are still able to behave humanity, make sacrifices, not being able to stand by and watch innocents suffer injustice.

More importantly, Night underlines the strong bond between Elie and his father. They try desperately to remain together throughout their concentraiton camp ordeal, even though it is crucial to Elie to remain with his father at all costs, under the stress of the Nazis oppression.

During the long run to Gleiwits, he says "My father's presence was the only thing that stopped my from allowing myself to die." Their bond demonstrates that Elie's love, solidarity and treatment toward his father are stronger forces of survival than his instinct for selfish self-preservation.

The story records of man's inhumanity to man, how much people suffer from unimaginable brutality and death in his account of atrocities experienced. But it also leaves messages that people can show consideration and decency toward other people even in the harshest of conditions .