Unlike many other books, it did not take me long to become riveted by Elie Wiesel’s “Night.” (For the first quarter of the book, I read the first two chapters, or the first 26 pages in my edition of the novel.) In only the first few pages, the author foreshadows the horrors of Nazi oppression with a moving account of a Jewish man surnamed “Moshe the Beadle.” He describes how Moshe the Beadle was expelled from the area because he was a Jewish foreigner. Although Moshe miraculously survived, he was scarred by the terrible experience of witnessing the Gestapo (German secret police) slaughter his fellow prisoners. He himself only survived because he was thought to dead after being wounded in the leg.
The author continues to describe how Moshe the Beadle was permanently scarred: “Moshe had changed. There was no longer any joy in his eyes. He no longer sang. He no longer talked to me of God or of the cabbala, but only of what he had seen” (4).
Instead of merely describing how terrifying and ghastly it was to be a Jew during the time of Hitler and the Nazis, Wiesel provides an example of a person who was forever changed by German cruelty. The author shows instead of tells about these early experiences, and he does a masterful job of drawing the reader in and conveying his message.
“Night” is a short book, and it must be succinct for it to be considered such a powerful and moving piece of literature. Even though I am only a quarter of the way in, I can tell why it has been so enduring; the way in which Wiesel gives such a personal and raw account of his experiences and suffering is what makes it so effective. One such example is when the author and his family are beginning to leave their home: “My father wept. It was the first time I had ever seen him weep. I had never imagined that he could. As for my mother, she walked with a set expression on her face, without a word, deep in thought. I looked at my little sister Tzipora, her fair hair well combed, a red coat over her arm, a little girl of seven. The bundle on her back was too heavy for her. She gritted her teeth. She knew by now that it would be useless to complain” (16-17).
From what I have read so far, “Night” is such an inspiring novel because the author describes his experiences with so much emotion. He does not need to explicitly explain his hatred of the Nazis, because the reader is able to feel it through the vividly dark tone throughout. This tone is what has struck me the most so far in the novel; what has struck you, Nic?