Night is a short but poignant memoir which quickly engages readers in Elie Wiesel’s life as a Jewish prisoner during the Holocaust. While fellow detainees are banished to the crematoria, dying of exhaustion, and beaten to death around him, Wiesel struggles with several other predicaments throughout his captivity, including his anger towards God and his inner conflict as his perspective on life and family changes. Other prisoners become more insistent that, “God is testing us… if He punishes us mercilessly, it is a sign that He loves us that much more…” (Wiesel 45), but Wiesel begins resenting God for allowing such brutal injustice.
Wiesel uses symbolism and imagery to display how this traumatizing and gruesome experience rapidly changes him from a once-devout Jew into a hardened man who loathes God and grudgingly shares his food rations with his father, whom he grows to see as a burden to take care of. The Holocaust tragically changes Wiesel; the Nazis strip him of his happiness, innocence, and love for God, life, and his family, all because of his Jewish faith, which he then renounces. Wiesel’s first-person account as a survivor of this worldwide calamity is a unique chance to explore more than historical facts and descriptions; as he pragmatically struggles to endure each day, his emotions, thoughts, and regrets reveal a haunting perspective of the Holocaust and its harrowing impact on the lives of all victims, whether they perished or survived.
This is definitely a must-read for all at some point, but I would specifically recommend it to older, more mature readers who can think deeply and understand the Holocaust’s horrific effects on Wiesel’s life. Younger, less sophisticated readers and thinkers would find Wiesel’s journey incredibly disturbing; in addition, they may not appreciate Night as the truly thought-provoking and touching book that it is.