Night by Elie Wiesel

When I first chose to read Night I was a little worried it’d be too similar to the many other books on WWII I’d read this year (I read three books during the summer and we’ve read three for this class). But it has proved to be a unique and different view of the tragedy. I love the way Wiesel weaves nuanced themes and metaphors into every chapter. He does this with the idea of optimism, the constant losses, and more. But he especially uses this tactic with the word “Night.” At the very start of the book, night is cleverly established as a symbol of Jewish suffering when Wiesel says, “by night I would run to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple,” (3). This symbol is used throughout the book any time a bad event occurs. The meeting happens right after “night fell,” (12). Right before Wiesel is transported it says “night had fallen,” (18). I was really delighted to see such an intricate metaphor in a non-fiction novel. I never though nonfiction could be so beautifully written! What made the night metaphor so amazing was that once the painful meaning of the night as established it helped me understand (ever so slightly) the horror of the concentration camps. The line “never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that
turned my life into one long night seven times sealed,” let me see the endless toil and torture of the camps (34). It made the hopelessness and darkness a little closer to something I can grasp.

Another interesting theme sprinkled about the beginning of the book is the eternal optimism the Jews seemed to possess. I (being an overly logical person with 20/20 hindsight) found the Jew’s level of optimism to be almost unbelievable. I can’t tell if the hopefulness was more of a hindrance or a help. On the one hand, it gave people a reason to hang on one day longer, like when Stein proclaims that knowing his children are alive is “The only thing that keeps me alive,” (45). On the other hand, optimism blurs reality and could make people impractical and less cognizant of the threat of the Nazis or other dangers. Optimism blinded the people of Hungary and dissuaded Jews from leaving. “The Germans were already in our town, the Fascists were already in power, the verdict was already out—and the Jews of Sighet were still smiling,” (10). I think the larger message is that no matter what one would like to believe reality will always destroy any delusion.

On the subject of delusions, I would like to discuss  how religion is affected in the camps. In Man’s Search For Meaning religious devotion is described as almost always increased upon entering a camp. Yet Wiesel continues changing between deep belief and total rejection of Judaism. At one point while everyone is saying the Kaddish he “felt anger rising within,” (33), and even asks ” why should I sanctify His name?” (33). Yet shortly thereafter he “found [him]self-whispering the words,” (34). I think he is angry for the terrible events he has to endure and is blaming G-d for these problems. But at the same time, he needs a source of comfort and hope, and this is why he feels an urge to pray. Prayer gives him stability and normality (and, dare I say, meaning) in his life. It lets him be a human with a community he shares something with. So he has to face a large internal conflict about wat to do. Whereas in MSM, he recognized that it was of no use to blame G-d. Hence (like with his other placebo cures) he figured one might as well believe.

I also found the use of the kaddish an interesting representation of Wiesel’s feelings toward G-d. The Kaddish is used to divide services into sections. There are a few different Kadishes with the exact same words, but totally different meaning. People are able to take the words and impose upon them their own feelings and losses. It shows how religion can be a blank slate for the feelings of a nation and a source of unification and a shared suffering. In my opinion, the messages in Night, as well as the intelligent writing and strong emotions make it a wonderfully sad book to read.

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23 responses to “Night by Elie Wiesel

  1. margosidline

    Hello everyone!

    I am so excited that we have selected such a wonderful book to begin with out next reading adventure!

    I heard a wonderful anecdote from a family friend of mine. When he was in fourth grade he did a study on a Nobel peace prize winner, and he chose Elie Wiesel. He wrote him a letter that included a key piece of information: His family was also from Sighet! Elie responded with a hand written note saying that he remembered the family. I read the correspondence between them, and it was truly touching. We ought to considering writing him a group letter at the end of the blogging; it seems to me that he takes special care to respond to students and children.

    Alright, story aside, it’s time to analyze. After reading through page 64, I am enthralled in the story. The thing that I find the most different about this novel compared to every other holocaust book that I’ve read it the extraordinary detail. Many books that I’ve read briefly explain the ghettos and the cattle car excursion, but none quite like this. Wiesel digs deep into his memory to explain those horrors, but being the artist he is, does so beautifully.

    The story of the hallucinating woman on the train was very touching. She was so overcome with grief it was as if she was hell was starring her in the face. What a foreshadow for her sight of flames and the actual flames they encounter at the camp!

    I have to say that I am so relieved that Elie is still with his father. The total loss of his family might have killed him like it did for his cousin from Antwerp. I think that was perhaps the most touching and emotional part of the reading. I held back tears when he was never seen again after hearing the “true news.” It was sweet of Elie to try to save his cousin’s feelings, but it was to no avail. He was powerless against Nazi cruelty.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to finishing Night and continuing on with the reading of Dawn and possibly Day. Elie has such a way with words, that it makes such harsh stories enjoyable to read. I’m so glad we chose this book!

    I can’t wait to read your responses(:

  2. hadleycorwin

    Hello, all!

    I loved reading the posts people have written! Sydney, your comments were extremely thorough and well written, and Margo, I definitely think we should write to Elie Wiesel once we finish blogging; he seems like such a considerate and thoughtful individual: based on your anecdote and based on what I have read so far of Night.

    I feel obligated to apologize in advance: I am afraid that I am not as familiar with holocaust literature as many in this group. So, please forgive my ignorance and bear with me as I struggle to analyze and comprehend the horror and complexity of the social structures and other elements existing in concentration camps.

    Like Sydney, I was struck by the blissful illusions and positivity the Jewish people clung to when entering the ghettos and boarding the cattle cars. I am continually frustrated and dumbfounded by the world’s general ignorance of concentration camps in WWII. I was struck by the quote “the beloved objects that we had carried with us from place to place were now left behind in the wagon and, with them, finally, our illusions” (29) because it perfectly captures the shattering of hope the Jewish people experience when arriving at the camps. The imagery of leaving behind one’s illusions and dreams was heartbreaking, as it shows the peoples’ acceptance of the suffering and tragedy that awaits them. In the back of my mind, I kept telling Elie to hold on to life, to hold on to hope.

    Reading Man’s Search For Meaning so recently made me view Elie’s plight through the lenses of suffering and giving life meaning. As Margo touched upon, a prime example of this is when Elie encounters his relative, Stein and tells him that his boys are alive and well. In this moment, Elie has given Stein’s life meaning and a purpose that gives Stein the will to live and a reason to hope. And, like Margo, I was devastated to read as reality set in to crush Stein’s happiness with the arrival of the transport from Antwerp.

    Sydney, I also observed the concentration camps’ effect on the Jewish people’s faith. The Polish head veteran in Auschwitz tells the prisoners to “muster your strength and keep your faith” (41) while later a fellow prisoner believes that the concentration camps are a test of endurance and strength “God is testing us” (45). As Sydney mentioned, Eliezer himself struggles between renouncing and deepening his beliefs. In general, most of the prisoners seemed to keep their belief in the existence of G-d, although many blame him for their struggles and are confused about the lack of explanation and support he is giving the Jewish people. I think this is a very interesting and understandable perspective, and I am interested to watch Elie’s relationship with Judaism develop throughout the book.

    Last quick comments: like Margo, I am overjoyed that Elie and his father have managed to stay together thus far! Hooray! Also, I found it fascinating and beautiful that Elie and the French girl were able to reconnect years after they first met. The whole book expresses Elie’s raw emotions with the uttermost honesty and fluency, from his anger to his sorrow, his hope to his pain.

    I can’t wait to read the rest of your comments, have a wonderful break everyone!

  3. danielleneadwork

    Hi everyone!

    Like all of you, I am thrilled that we have chosen such an interesting and impactful book to read and I am really enjoying it so far-as much as possible, considering the events that have taken place. Margo, I think that is so cool that family friend actually communicated with Elie Wiesel and I definitely agree that it would be very worthwhile to do so! Reading the comments above, I enjoyed seeing all of your ideas and weaving them into my own thoughts in my head.

    Like Sydney, I have recently read quite a few WWII books and while they have each had a strong meaning and story, I was somewhat hesitant in the back of my mind to venture into yet another one. But only 64 pages in, I am already very intrigued in this story and cannot stop reading, only to write this blog post haha. Also, although I did know that this book was nonfiction coming into it, as I read, it seemed more historical fiction to me because it was written like an actual fictional story (with each line of dialogue and conversations especially) but the events were very real. I have not really read a nonfiction book like it before and reading this as well as Man’s Search for Meaning has made me become much more open to and enjoying nonfiction books. I even questioned that this book was written as nonfiction to myself, although it was. This has made me that much more enthralled in the story and eager to follow Wiesel’s story.

    As you all discussed some, I was frankly shocked at the level of continuing optimism in that of the Jews the whole time. Before they understood the reality of their situation, Wiesel said “Yes, we even doubted his resolve to exterminate us” (26). This optimism is somewhat understandable because there was no reason to believe this, although there was a war going on and warnings from Moishe the Beadle. Then once in the ghettos, “Most people thought that we would remain in the ghetto until the end of the war” (30). This is less believable because they have been forced into a fenced-in area and have not been put there for no reason. Then again, later, “chances were that we would be allowed to go on with our miserable little lives until the end of the war” (38). This statement is just hard for me to grasp, as is the whole situation, but I do not fully understand how they could have such positivity in such an awful situation, and am quite surprised by this.

    Margo, I agree with your thoughts about the woman on the train, and I felt terrible about the state she was in. It made me anxious for her outcome with how mad she seemed to have gone, and it also made me think about what might happen to those in the sick car. I must add I also thought the whole way through the train ride how there were going to be real flames and that it must be foreshadowing! I was glad to see that it was, and thought the Wiesel used the fire well, as a symbol for despair and how tough these events were.

    I mentioned Moishe the Beadle earlier and I found him to be quite an interesting character. At first, when he was teaching Elie, I thought that he would be a mentor throughout the book, and for me, it was unexpected when he became this warning signal who nobody believed, and I was disappointed that he was forgotten about.

    Lastly, when Maria, the former maid of the Wiesel family tried to rescue them, I died no understand why Elie’s father “wouldn’t hear of it” (38). All I can come up with is that he was leading his Jewish people, although I would have thought that a chance for survival and escape for as many people as possible would be inviting. For me, this goes along with the ongoing, strong optimism among the Jews and how it may cloud their judgement a bit, with false hope for easy and quick survival out of the war.

    Lastly, Hadley, I agree that this book is so raw and full of emotions, which makes it enjoyable. I am excited to continue on with Night, Dawn, and possibly Day and I especially enjoy his level of detail in describing the events, as it is a level of depth that I do not usually see (which Sydney mentioned as well). I look forward to continue our blogging!

  4. Hello everyone! I have enjoyed reading each of your blog posts, they are all extremely insightful. Also, I agree that we should write to Elie Wiesel, it would be incredible to be able to correspond with him and learn more about his story.

    Like you said Danielle, as I read Night, I forget that I am reading a factual account of Elie Wiesel’s life during World War II. The telling of his journey is so enthralling and beautifully written that I find myself thinking it is a fictional creation.

    I found the mindset of the Jewish community at the beginning of the book, how they convinced themselves that the war would not touch them and that they would be safe from the persecution, to be astonishing. Like you said Sydney, I have 20/20 vision when looking at the past, so I see the folly in the belief of the Sighet Jews that they would be safe, and wish that they had listened to the warnings. Yet, I can understand how they could have convinced themselves that they would not be affected by the events occurring in the rest of the world. The deportation of Jews was happening beyond the people’s scope of concern, and consequently, the Sighet Jews could deny the fact that they would be targeted, and that they were not sheltered from the danger. We experience that today. Violent acts and other atrocities are committed daily, and we hear and read about them in the news, but those events do not effect me the way I know they should. The events seem so distant and that geographical distance muffles the horror and potential for danger. It is only when the dangers are too close to escape that people recognize their vulnerability. Even then, people can clutch to their irrational beliefs. The people’s illogical optimism also reminded me of Man’s Search for Meaning, where Frankl talks about how he witnessed fellow prisoners cling to the last shreds of hope for safety, even when the future events were clear. Frankl calls it “delusion of reprieve”, and while Wiesel did not have the psychiatrical term for it, he saw it clearly in the actions of his fellow jews. It is interesting how despite the different people and variations in circumstances, both these men witnessed the same pattern.

    The role of faith in the concentration camp is interesting. As you mentioned in your blog post, Hadley, in MSM, Frankl states that people’s faith deepened while in the camp, as they were deprived of all else in their lives and craved for something to believe in that could not be taken away or destroyed by the Nazis. In Night, the reader gets a slightly different description of faith in the concentration camps. Wiesel has begun to question and doubt his faith, as a result of the great injustices he has experienced in the concentration camp. Other prisoners seem to be searching for justification and rationalization for the horrible events and great suffering they have experienced. This is exemplified in the quote “God is testing us. He wants to see whether we are capable of overcoming our base instincts, of killing the Satan within ourselves. We have no right to despair. And if he punishes us mercilessly, it is a sign that He loves us that much more…” (63). The people want to find a reason for their suffering and a reward for enduring it. They create the answers and guarantees of reward through their faith.

    Another section I found intriguing was when Wiesel stood by as his father was struck by a fellow prisoner, and did nothing to defend his father. Weisel recounts: “I stood petrified. What had happened to me? My father had just been struck, in front of me, and I had not even blinked. I had watched and kept silent. Only yesterday, I would have dug my nails into this criminal’s flesh. Had I changed that much? So fast?” (57). In the short amount of time that Wiesel has been in the concentration camp, it has already changed him, and not just in his view of his faith. He has become numbed to the sufferings of others, even his father. Like Margo and Hadley, I am glad that Elie and his father have managed to stay together, but I wonder whether the characteristic Elie demonstrated by not protecting his father will be revealed again later in the story and worsen as the conditions in the camp deteriorate. An environment such as the concentration camp, where one’s life is always threatened and one must focus on surviving, fosters selfishness and self-centeredness. I hope that Elie and his father remain together and take care of each other, but I fear that as the story continues, Elie will begin to resent his father and view him as a burden.

    On that happy note, I will end my blog. 🙂

    I look forward to discussing the next section of the book with you!

  5. hadleycorwin

    Hello again everyone,

    Although Night is a mere 120 pages, I found Elie Wiesel’s ability to cram an enormous amount of information into such a slim account incredible. The second half of Night was more similar to other holocaust literature that I have read, so I did not have as many new revelations, although I still found it a moving and heartbreaking conclusion to the book. The cruelty that humanity is capable of never ceases to astound me, especially reading this book in correlation with learning about World War II in history class.

    One quote that particularly stood out to me as devastatingly depressing was when Elie’s faceless neighbor in the infirmary offers the grim and heart-wrenching statement, “’I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people’” (81). I find this fact incredible and appalling, and it makes me fiercely angry with the Americans and all the other Allied countries for not coming to the concentration camp prisoner’s rescue earlier. I had never considered the irony in that only the enemy has stayed honest and kept his promises to the Jewish people. The thought is so twisted and backwards that it struck me as I read it and continues to have an impact on me each time I read this quote.

    I would also like to focus for a moment on the passage on page 83 when Elie refers to his mother and life before the concentration camp “it reminded me of my mother’s last recommendations in the ghetto. But I couldn’t fall asleep. My foot was on fire” (83). Although Elie was in pain at this time and was obviously suffering immensely, he still finds solace in the memory of his mother, if only for a brief moment. It encouraged me that he was still able to think about and remember life before the concentration camps. It seems to me that recalling life before the concentration camps became harder and harder for Elie and all of the prisoners as time went by. However, at times, it was the memory of their past life that were the only thing keeping them sane.

    One question I have for everyone: what did everyone think/feel about the father and son relationships we observe in this half of the book? The relationships were fascinating and atrociously saddening for me to read about, however, I was proud of Elie for sticking with his father for so long and for being there to support him. I do not believe either of them would have lasted as long if they had not had each other. I found the struggle between the father and son for the piece of bread later in the book devastating, although it gives insight into the individualistic mindset of each concentration camp prisoner. One had to look out for one’s self if one hoped to survive. Ultimately, Elie finds this to be true when he feels a moment of relief when his father passes and knows that amongst his pain he will still writhe in a guilty, selfish, joy at his father’s passing.

    Lastly, I feel the need to address the conclusion to Wiesel’s holocaust journey. The haunting last page, in which Elie sees himself for the first time in years, was shocking and powerful. From a structural standpoint, I thought Wiesel’s decision to end his account in this place was a fitting and perfect decision: it leaves the reader with all the information she needs about Wiesel’s experience, yet the messages and stories from Wiesel’s traumatic childhood still lurk in the reader’s mind and make a lasting impression.

    Can’t wait to read your responses!

  6. margosidline

    Hello again!

    I just finished Night, and shockingly, am I nearly speechless. There is so much to say, but I feel as though I have no words.

    To help me, I will stick to two concepts that struck me.

    Firstly, Katherine, you were quite right in you assumption of how Elie would view his father as a burden. Throughout the end of the reading, I was acutely aware that Elie felt that way, but I couldn’t help but feel shocked when upon the death of his father he did not feel anything- although he alluded to relief. I understand why he may have struggled to keep a connection to his father; a concentration camp is hardly the place to develop an interpersonal relationship. However, I still felt surprised at his reaction. Despite the burden his father had become and the extraction of love from the relationship, all Elie had was his father- even his tooth had been taken! When the father died, I put down the book for a moment. I had to reflect on why I felt such a pit forming in my stomach. I realized that although I was in a room with my own mother and father, I felt alone in reading of that loss. If I could feel that so tangibly through Elie’s words, I can only imagine how that would actually feel. Yet, Elie felt nothing. Though I understand it, I am left dumbfounded.

    Secondly I’d like to discuss the brief, but important, description of the feeling of being without a god. Similarly to the loss of his father, being without God is lonely. I do understand that many people do not believe in God for whatever reason, but I do believe. I say this because, coming from my devoted religious background, I understand how great a sacrifice faith is. I can think of very few things that would push me to abandon my faith; what Elie experienced (the loss of his mother, sisters, home, material possessions, and physical well-being) qualifies undoubtedly. Still, I cannot help but think of the works of other survivors. They often write that their faith is the only thing that kept them living. Once Elie had given up his faith, it seemed almost comparable to abandoning all hope. But he still had his father then, so he kept going. Shortly after, he lost his father. What kept him going? Was he simply living out of habit? Though it is horrible to say, had I been him, I would have slept in the snow. Why live with nothing to live for? How was he to know if he would have survived another day or even another hour? Yes, it is bleak, but I believe that in his position, I would rather let myself be in peace.

    Sorry for the melancholy textual interaction! I know we have all been a bit lazy with the scheduling of our posts, but that said, it is still a pleasure to be able to read and discuss the literature on and offline.

    See you in class tomorrow! Have a lovely night.

  7. Hello Hadley, Margo, Danielle and Sydney!

    Although I read the second section of Night right after I wrote my last blog post, reading the ending of Elie’s story for the second time, I gained a greater understanding of the events and what Elie was experiencing. It seems slightly odd, but the contrast between the beautiful weather of this weekend and the conditions of the concentration camps I was reading about made the hardship, suffering and despair the prisoners experienced more vivid. Even after reading Night, I still struggle to comprehend the cruelty exhibited and the suffering endured in the concentration camps. The concentration camps illustrated the two extremes on the spectrum of human character, revealing people’s great capacity for hate, violence and overwhelming cruelty, but also people’s great perseverance, courage, morality, and resilience.

    In his telling of his story, Ellie Wiesel communicates how human he is, and the flaws that that entails. He does not laud himself as a hero who was eternally selfless and brave. Wiesel describes the angry and selfish thoughts he had. In every page of the short book, Wiesel describes his thoughts and actions in a simple and authentic manner. There is no veiled agenda, no search for the assignment of guilt in the novel. Night is not the vessel for a berating lecture meant for the next generation. In his writing of his experiences, Wiesel conveys his wish for all to recognize what happened and fully understand on an intimate level, what those events meant for the people involved.

    I was also intrigued by the relationship between Elie and his father. To respond to your question Hadley, I was also proud of Elie for staying with his father. However, while he stayed with his father, in his heart he did not want to stay. At the end of his Father’s life, Elie seemed to begrudge his father the effort of helping him. Reading the change in the relationship, I have to wonder whether I would have stayed with my father in those circumstances or if I would have abandoned him in a fit of self-preservation.

    Also, this section gave further detail in how Elie’s faith transformed over the course of his time in the concentration camp. During a prayer Elie thinks to himself, “Why, but why would I bless him? Every fiber in me rebelled. Because He caused thousands of children to burn in His mass graves? Because He kept six crematoria working day and night, including Sabbath and the Holy Days? Because in His great might, He had created Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, and so many other factories of death?” (85). Ellie’s anger is so strong. The atrocities he sees around him are too great, and have caused him too much pain and despair for him to be able to easily explain them.

    Another aspect of this section that I found interesting was the idea of fate. Throughout Elie’s stay in the concentration camp, he tries to understand the system and predict the future in order to save himself. However, each time he does so, safety eludes him. This is illustrated when he writes, “After the war, I learned the fate of those who had remained at the infirmary. They were, quite simply, liberated by the Russians, two days after evacuation,” (100). Reading this part was painful, for Elie was so close to safety, but trying to ensure his safety, he committed himself to more pain. In these situations, no matter how much a person tries to control their fate, in the end it is clear that fate cannot be controlled.

    Night was an enjoyable and thought-provoking book, and once again it was enjoyable discussing it with you and look forward to continuing.

    Are we planning on reading all of Dawn for the next post?

    See you all tomorrow! 🙂

  8. sydneyvonarx

    Hi everyone! It has been really great reading what you all have said. And Katie, I’m pretty sure we are reading all of Dawn for the next post.

    As I read through Night, I began to think that it felt much too beautiful to be completely nonfictional. A bit of research told me that Night brushes with fiction and certainly doesn’t tell the whole truth. For example, when Weisel parts with his sisters he says “I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever,” (29). He neglects to mention that his two other sisters survived. I can understand leaving out the more positive details in favor of a concise novel depicting the true horrors of the holocaust. However I felt slightly deceived at the amount of embellishment Weisel added to his story. For example, he talked about the boy who brought his violin through the death march. Setting aside the fact that one could probably never keep hold of an instrument through the march, or that his fingers would have been too frozen to play, I still find this scene impossible. As a string player, I can say no instrument would survive in those cold, dry temperatures (the bridge and soundpost would fall, the wood would crack, the strings would snap, and the glue would come off), and if, somehow, it stayed intact it would sound terrible. Wiesel also adds small embellishments which make the stories more powerful. For example, he recounts a hanging of three prisoners, one of whom was a child. Another survivor’s more expository rendition of the same event made no mention of that or of the Kapo’s notable refusal to be the executioner.
    I don’t bring up Wiesel’s adapting of the facts to discredit his book. I think the book sacrifices the details to paint a more accurate overall picture of what the holocaust was like. The reason I mention all of this is to discuss Wiesel’s use of symbols and dramatic imagery as things Wiesel intentionally added, not things which just happened to occur. I thought Wiesel’s use of Juliek’s violin as a symbol for passion was very powerful. By saying “Juliek’s soul had become his bow,” he was showing how some people managed to keep their souls alive in spite of the cruelties of the camp (95). Somehow, beauty still managed to appear. Juliek’s death that night shows the death of such beauty in the final days of the holocaust. I really like what Margo said about how by the end people were “living out of habit.” They had all meaning and joy stripped from their lives. Before reading Night I hadn’t been able to grasp why people just gave up, especially at the end when freedom was so close. Reading this let me understand the persistence it took to keep on living in such an awful, hopeless place.
    For my answer to Hadley’s question, I was quite surprised at the number of father-son duos in the book (I counted four). In the relationships, some sons loved their fathers while others (especially toward the end) seemed to not care for them or even show active dislike. I think these relationships paralleled the prisoners’ relationships with g-d. Wiesel has to hang onto his father to find an inspiration to survive. Similarly, many prisoners continue to have faith to find a will to live. But both of these degrade as time goes on. Wiesel begins to abandon faith, and many people, such as Rabbi Eliahu’s son, begin to abandon their fathers. The one man on the train who kills his father represents those who begin to resent their religion. Just as the son on the train is killed, people’s hatred towards their faith causes them to lose hope and die.
    I agree with with Margo that it was surprising to see Wiesel’s apathy at his father’s death. I think the reason Wiesel didn’t exhibit much emotion, and was even slightly relieved wasn’t only because the camp took away people’s empathy. I think Weisel had slowly realized his father wasn’t going to make it. The idea first stuck him on the train after the death march when he says “what if he were dead as well? I called out to him. No response. I would have screamed if I could have. He was not moving,” (98). From this point on the grave reality becomes progressively clearer and Wiesel continues to have outbursts of anger and sadness. For example, when the doctor shouts at his father, Wiesel wanted to “set fire to the whole world! My father’s murderers!” (109). He used the word murderers even though his father was still alive because he knew there was no hope. When his father finally did die, it was just the inevitable occurring.
    Night’s brevity has really struck me. The entire story is short but it tells so much. A little research told me the original manuscript was 862 pages long. Apparently it was edited severely before the yiddish version was published. Then the french version was cut down more. Finally, it was shortened even more for the english version. I think making the story so short adds tension to it. It feels like it has been distilled into the most moving, tragic moments. This really helps it make its point about the holocaust powerfully.

  9. danielleneadwork

    Hi everyone!

    So sorry I have not done this yet, I lost my book, but now have found it and I am finally able to finish up my blog post (it was written with “insert quotes here” haha) so yay!

    Katie, I definitely agree with your observation on how “human” Elie Wiesel is, and I was actually planning on writing about that myself. 🙂 I thought that the way you said “He does not laud himself as a hero who was eternally selfless and brave” was a great way to put it and made perfect sense. To expand on this, one quote that stood out to me was “He had called out to me and I had not answered” (130). Throughout the novel Elie had fleeting thoughts about giving up on his father, but he always ended up helping him and saving him each time. Then, this particular time, he actually gave up on his father and chose to save himself. This was a really heartbreaking moment for me in the story, and I stopped for a second, thinking to myself, “is this really happening?”, “Is he actually dead?”, just in disbelief. But then, Elie says, “Since my father’s death, nothing mattered to me anymore” (131). I think this shows that this slip-up on Elie’s part was just a moment of weakness for him that cost him his father’s life. Elie didn’t really want to be alone, because as soon as he was, he was crushed and “nothing mattered to me [Elie] anymore”. I think the only reason that he did mess up was because of the influences around him telling him that he could “not think of others” (128) and that “Each of us lives and dies alone” (128). Although Elie had never taken these voices as truth and had always done what he thought best to keep his father alive, the words just finally got through to him, and this resulted in his father dying, which was pretty much inevitable I think (although I was hoping it would not happen).

    I would also like to discuss the quote that Hadley mentioned when Wiesel wrote, “’I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people’” (81). Like you, Hadley, I found this statement to be appallingly true and it really struck me as something I had not thought about, though it was so accurate. It was so ironic how Hitler is the “bad guy,” although he is the only one who “has kept his promises…to the Jewish people.” Not only is this true, but it is devastating because he promised to kill them and torture them to no end, which is exactly what he did. It especially frustrates me how many other countries exist in the world, and so many of them did not pitch in to help save the victims of this horrible mass murder. This statement also made me realize that at the time Wiesel heard this, he must have been a bit stunned as well at the brevity of it, although he also probably found it simply true and there was nothing he could do about it at the time, he probably realized.

    Lastly, after just the one man is executed, Wiesel mentions “that on that evening, the soup tasted better than ever” (81). But then, after a child and two other victims were slowly killed, and God was missing to save them, Elie said, “That night, the soup tasted of corpses” (83). This contrasting response to witnessing hangings shows how at first, Wiesel was so unaffected by all of the horrors he had seen that all he cared about at the end of the day was the soup and not starving, himself. But, when the child is killed, he feels some kind of connection and it affects him a bit more in more of an emotional way. It creates that feeling in the pit of his stomach so that even his tasty soup has the taste of corpses.

    This short book has had such an impact on me, telling detailed horrors of the camp, yet different from what I have read before, with more emotion and reactions to specific events. This made it all the more realistic and connecting with it was much easier, making me feel a tiny fraction of the pain Elie went through in the camps.

    On that note, I look forward to talking about Dawn very soon!
    ~Danielle 🙂

  10. margosidline

    Hello all! I have not yet completed the reading for our third post, but I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that we will be discussing only the FIRST HALF of Dawn in the next post! Looking forward to hearing all your thoughts.

  11. hadleycorwin

    Hello ladies,

    Reading the first half of Dawn was an incredibly different experience than the first half of Night. First of all, Dawn is a novel, rather than a true account of Wiesel’s life. However, the main character’s name, Elisha, is suspiciously similar to Elie, a hint that perhaps the tale is very close to Wiesel’s own story. As I was reading, I began to think of the novel as a “what-could-have-been,” a different version of what might have happened to Wiesel after his time in the concentration camps, or what could have happened to the boys he knew. I suddenly realize that I have actually never blogged about a fiction piece before, so this is a new process for me!

    First of all, I feel obligated to discuss the religious aspects of Dawn. Elisha says that in the concentration camp he “had cried out in sorrow and anger against God and also against man, who seemed to have inherited only the cruelty of his creator” (12). While Judaism is not as omnipresent as it was in Night, it is clear that Elisha’s relationship with his religious beliefs is a major part of his character. He joins the terrorists in part due to the fact he believes Gad is a messenger sent to deliver his fate. Later in the same chapter, Elisha is further convicted to the Jewish terrorist cause in Palestine because Gad tells him that it is the Europeans who fear the Jewish people, instead of the Jewish people being the ones who are afraid. It is powerful to me that Elisha is so stricken with this concept of his people, for once, being the ones in power. Where else have you all seen examples of religion being a vital aspect of the story?

    Another main theme that I think we ought to talk about is the concept of killing and Elisha’s role as a killer. Practically the entire book so far has been Elisha grappling with the fact he must execute a man. While Gad reassures him it is merely an aspect of war, it is obvious that killing this man has much more significance for Elisha. Two ideas stood out to me: the first being the thought that to kill is to take on the role of God, the second the idea of death having no other body parts besides eyes. Elisha brings up his disturbed ideas about being a killer on page 25, “No, it was not easy to play the part of God, especially when it meant putting on the field gray uniform of the SS… with John Dawson I would be on my own. I would look into his face and he would look into mine and see that I was all eyes.” I was both captivated and confused by death being “all eyes,” but I do think that eyes have a significant link to the mind and heart, and killing someone is always more significant when you look into someone’s eyes. I imagine that, for a moment, the two people have a connection, the brief eye contact an unspoken bridge that makes killing just a bit more painful. Playing the role of God by bringing an end to someone’s life makes more sense. I can see why, from a religious standpoint rather than just a moral standpoint, killing is considered evil. I wondered for a second why the Jewish terrorists are so utterly abandoning these morals- however they are simply retaliating against the cruelty of the English people. There is also a part of me that cheers for the terrorists for taking action on the behalf of a people that have been persecuted for so long.

    One of the parts I found most interesting in this section was when the main characters shared how their life had ben saved by something or someone. I thought this was one of the most powerful and engaging parts, due to the fact it is such a dark and unusual topic. It was interesting to read more into the character’s lives and how their past has shaped them into the characters we meet in the present. This section starts on page 31 and goes on to page 36, so it takes up a substantial chunk of the reading. A little after, Elisha recounts his time with Catherine. I have to admit I was a little confused by this storyline, it was not entirely clear to me why the author chose to include Catherine. What were your interpretations?

    Overall, I prefer Night to Dawn, so far. I think the aspect of Night being a true account of Wiesel’s experience made it a much more powerful and engaging read, whereas there has been little action and not much character development apart from Elisha thus far in Dawn.

    I will see you all tomorrow, hope to read your responses soon!

  12. sydneyvonarx

    After reading the first half of Dawn, I am left with one question. Why? Why on earth did Elisha join a terrorist group? I don’t think Dawn was being unrealistic in having Elisha do this since people join terrorist groups all the time. But just as I never understand why people do this in reality, I also don’t understand it in Dawn. Wiesel certainly tries to explain this phenomenon, but it is beyond my grasp. Killing people will only make things worse. Terrorism does not lead to peace. Terrorizing the enemy makes them try to seek revenge, not support your cause. I obviously never experienced the kinds of suffering Elisha did, and I also think much more logically and less emotionally than most. As I’ve read it so far, Elisha has been swept up by the movement and his rage. He is finally starting to think through his actions as he realizes the parallels between the two men condemned to die, and sees that the British soldier is an actual person. But by this point be has already done so much and is so involved it is too late to turn back. That’s my take on things but I still don’t get why he would kill anyone in the first place. I’d love to hear everyone’s take on this.

    This lack of understanding reminds me of when I read the nonfiction book A Long Way Gone. A Long Way Gone is about a Sierra Leone boy who, like Elisha, finds himself all alone after his family is killed in a tragic war. He has to endure terrible hardship and eventually becomes a rebel fighter. Both stories have heroes who commit terrible murders and acts of violence, and also risk their lives fighting. Both novels contain the same apathy towards others and the feeling of just following orders and somehow never stop to question whether their actions are right until it is too late. Eventually, both characters have to face the consequences of their actions and feel guilt.

    Moving on, to answer Hadley’s question about the role of religion in Elisha’s life, I will focus on the one most influential aspect of Elisha’s religion: the Kabbalah. He seems to be using mysticism to answer his questions about life and find meaning and morals. He never doubts anything and believes even the somewhat childish stories. I think Elisha’s unwavering faith in mysticism connects to his unwavering faith in his terrorist group. When he first meets Gad, he decides, “he is a messenger, a man sent by fate to whom I could refuse nothing. I must sacrifice everything to him, even hope, if he asked it,” (154). Elisha is immediately willing to give his life to Gad, never questioning his ideas. He sees answers in Gad and just accepts them, as he does with the kabbalah. But in doing so he also removes himself from responsibility. He uses religion and his beliefs as an excuse. He tells himself he cannot refuse Gad’s requests, but really it is Elisha’s choice.

    As for the chapter with Catherine, I agree with Hadley that it was slightly unnecessary, but I did see its point. Wiesel was trying to show that Elisha is a person like anyone else, who has been through a lot. But he doesn’t want people’s pity. The chapter also parallels the story. Elisha is slowly pressured into having a relationship with Catherine. He never really stops to think it through and just goes with it until he suddenly realizes what has happened, but at that point, he’s already in quite deep. In this same way, he was swept up by the terrorists and is finally seeing the wrongness of his actions. But it is too late for him to turn back. I think the chapter hinted at how he will walk away from everything like he did with Catherine. Still, I think all of this was fairly redundant and the character of Catherine isn’t very interesting or deep.

    I was interested in the personification of death and night as a pair of eyes. I think it partially shows how everyone is capable of killing. Eyes are something every person has. Moreover, eyes are a way of perceiving things. This shows how the capacity to kill is all in how one views the situation. Any perception can be twisted or obscured in the darkness of night. But eventually night subsides and dawn makes clear the evil of one’s actions, just as it does to Elisha.

    Like Hadley, I prefer Night to Dawn. Dawn doesn’t seem to go anywhere; he just keeps dreading the inevitable. Still, overall it’s not a bad book and has an interesting message.

  13. danielleneadwork

    Hello everyone,

    I agree with you both that Night is a better read than Dawn, although I think that Dawn has its strong points as well. including the references of night and looking through, and the way it ends might be interesting.

    Hadley, I agree that the names are so similar with Elie and Elisha, and from your possible ideas, I think that Dawn is just another story of another man during this time period. I do not think it necessarily happened to a specific person he knew, but rather a combination of possible experiences that he saw or heard about, either during the war or afterwards. As it is fiction, it must also be a craft of these types of experiences along with that in Wiesel’s imagination.

    It has come to mind that originally maybe it was supposed to be fun to converse with one another about a story of our choice, although I have found myself dreading and putting off these blog posts, as our group has (
    which you all can see from the dates of these posts). I think this is a result of two things: 1.) We have been focused on being insightful and making grade-worthy long, boring paragraphs instead of actually conversing and sharing opinions which might be more fun haha, except the end of school has crept up now. 2.) Dawn is really just not that great of a book compared to Night and has not caught our interest. I think that Night was an impactful and interesting to the very end, except at the end, it had closure and ended its own, strong story. Once finishing, I think that a person does not feel the need to continue into yet another whole different and new story about the Holocaust. Considering the amount of Holocaust literature being read these days, finishing the one emotional, heart-wrenching story makes the reader think, but also causes them to put the book down because the journey is over. The reader then has no reason to proceed to pick it back up and start over again, and I can’t even imagine what Day does, although I am sure that all three are great stories if given the time and effort to be appreciated.

    Anyways, about the actual book, Dawn, I agree Sydney that it is a bit unconceivable why Elisha would join a terrorist group at all. I suppose it definitely shows his character though, and how he makes impulsive, dangerous decisions based on what has happened to him. This is especially because he has been through so much and will do anything he can to improve his situation. But when you said that people join terrorist groups all time which makes it somewhat more understandable, I disagree with that statement. I think that people only join terrorist groups because they are mentally skewed or ill, because those are the only causes for choosing to do somethings so dangerous and cruel. In my opinion, the people surrounding someone and heavily influencing them could also make a person do this, although these specific reasons are the only way a person could even possibly join one of these insane and macabre groups. I find this to be true in real life and in the story, and I think that this decision will affect Elisha for the rest of his life and will always come back to bite him as it is a bad one, as he may be starting to realize.

    Let’s finish up these posts and get on to summer only 9 days of school left!!

  14. Hello! Sorry about the delay in my post! I am a little to ready for summer to come.

    Reading the first half of Dawn, I was slightly confused. Before reading it, I had thought that Dawn and Day would continue to tell Elie’s story, describing his life after being freed from the concentration camp. Upon reading the preface, I realized that this was incorrect. The second thing that confused me, like Sydney and Danielle, was why Elisha joined the terrorist organization. As I read, his character seemed to be incongruous for such an organization. He lacks passion for the cause, and is not so wrapped up in the propaganda that he cannot decipher the true situation.

    The reader is not the only one confused by Elisha’s participation. Wiesel conveys that even Elisha is uncertain as to how he ended up in the situation he is, writing, “Eighteen years of searching and suffering, of study and rebellion, and they all added up to this. I wanted to understand the pure, unadulterated essence of human nature, the path to the understanding of man. I had sought after the truth, and here I was about to become a killer,” (159). Elisha sought to find the fundamental answers to the questions of life and human nature, and yet he finds himself about to kill a man. One could say that in this situation Elisha will achieve his wish, as in making the decision whether to stay loyal to his friends and his people, or to save a life, no matter who the individual is, Elisha will learn about a core aspect of human nature.

    Another interesting aspect of the first half of the story was the repetition of the phrase, “Don’t torture yourself, this is war”. In this phrase, Wiesel expresses the common sentiment that during war, moral and rules that normally govern people’s actions can be put aside. Does war make immoral actions acceptable? According to the laws, actions that in normal circumstances would be atrocious are accepted during wartime to a certain point. For me, the idea of war crimes is deeply confusing. According to these laws, people can kill and destroy to a certain point, and only if they surpass the accepted level are the actions deemed to be crimes. In the story, Gad tries to convince Elisha that killing the British officer is fine, and he should not feel anguish over his actions, because it is part of the war.

    The end of this story seems obvious, Elisha will execute the British man, and looking solely at the plot, the book seems rather boring, but I believe that in writing this book, Wiesel is trying to illustrate the motivations, thoughts and consequences of killing a person. What brings a man to kill another individual? As shown in the book, it is not always because of hot-headed anger, or hatred. Elisha does not have a deep hatred for the British man, in fact he sympathizes for the officer’s mother and family. So why does Elisha take that terrible action?

    See you guys tomorrow! I will probably do my last blog post this week, maybe Wednesday if I can.

  15. sydneyvonarx

    I found Dawn to have a very unsatisfactory ending. We didn’t really get to see much of how being a murderer affected Elisha. Nothing seemed to change because of the events in the book. Life just seemed to go on for everyone (save the two whose lives ended). Elisha’s profound epiphanies never amounted to anything.

    I would like to address Daniel’s comments about terrorists being mentally ill. I don’t think that that is actually true. Terrorists, by most definitions, are politically motivated. This means that terrorists have a reason for their actions. They also generally understand the consequences of what they do. Finally, terrorists clearly have emotions, since they are passionate about their own causes and do tend to feel remorse when one of their comrades is killed. Being mentally ill removes terrorists from any responsibility, but the truth is the majority of terrorists are completely sane and believe the ends of their actions justify the means. Having poor morals (which is, or course subjective), is not a mental illness. Some people are just bad people.

    Back to the novel, I certainly don’t think Elisha is mentally ill. He seems totally sane but also totally obedient. When he was “trying to hate” Dawson, I think it showed that he wasn’t really committed to the cause (217). This idea is reiterated when he realizes that being an enemy isn’t enough; he has to have a genuine hatred for him. This illustrated the broader issue of how Elisha is just fighting because he is a soldier, not because he truly believes it is right. I agree with Katie here, that Elisha’s search for answers has led him down this dark path, not his raw anger.

    Unfortunately, these thoughts never led anywhere. He never rebelled against the terrorist group, nor did he finally manage to develop true hatred.

    I think many aspects of the story were irrelevant. What did you all think of the many flashbacks and realizations Elisha had? Elisha’s story about his friend Stefan only led to him asking the prisoner if he was an artist. But he wasn’t an artist, so it didn’t really tie into anything else. Also, the flashback to Catherine in the first half of the book was never really important in the second half. While these somewhat irrelevant tangents didn’t further the story much some of them had interesting little ideas. They also helped give the impression of a wandering mind. They really let the reader explore Elisha’s thoughts, and I think that the lack of relevance to the forthcoming execution revealed something. It showed how Elisha was trying to distract himself and escape within his own traumatized mind.

    The prisoner’s funny stories were also an intriguing promise that was never fulfilled. We never got to hear the humorous tales, nor did we hear much at all about him. I understand that this was, in part, to show how easy it was for Elisha to not see Dawson as a human being. But I think a little more characterization during their conversation would have gone a long way.

    Overall, though, I think Dawn did an awesome job of capturing what it take to be executioner. It captured the mindset and explained it with little bias. There were plenty of profound ideas Elisha explored, and the story was fairly well written. But the book felt slightly pointless because no matter how many flashbacks and epiphanies Elisha had, nothing was ever going to prevent the coming of dawn. The execution was as inevitable as the rising of the sun.

    On a side note, don’t forget we still have the review to do.

  16. margosidline

    Hello- sorry I’m a bit late on my response. I was unsure of when we were supposed to post!

    Anyway, I am going to attempt to combine my third and fourth posts into this one here:

    I agree with you all that Dawn is not as enjoyable to read as Night is. I think this has a lot to do with the content; Night is about Weisel’s journey through the camps during World War Two and the Holocaust and is what we expected going in. While it of course had its own take on the time period because it was a new account that we had not yet heard, the elements of holocaust literature that I am sure we had all expected were present. He lost his family, was abused by the soldiers, found a few kind faces in the midst of all the discord and murder, and eventually arose from that “night” (haha, get it?) as a stronger man.

    I don’t know about all of you, but I expected Dawn to be similar. Maybe I skimmed the back of the book too lightly, but I figured it was just a more in depth account of what was covered in Night but with a new angle, perhaps. I was wrong, of course, and I found many surprises throughout the read.

    For example, the mere fact that Elie joined the intensive six week terrorist training was so surprising to me. The sole fact that he would join the Movement in the first place is next to unfathomable for me. I can kind of see the motivation- and I’m sure his is the same for the other Jews that joined- but I cannot agree with it.

    The one thing that I have been told repeatedly throughout my Jewish experience is that is my duty as a Jew to be a global citizen and to take care of my fellow people in the world. In Night, Elie went through literal hell and he, as I mentioned, came out a new man. Everything that happened to Elie, everything he witnessed contradicted that lesson. Like in Man’s Search for Meaning, there is a reaction stage and the reactions are different; there are several ways to leave a place like that.

    I know for me, I would be even more inspired to be a dutiful global citizen and be more motivated to try to heal the world. For someone like Elie, it was the opposite. The world seemed hopeless and he became bitter and must have wanted revenge. Because of who I am, I simply cannot think like that and that is why I have no sympathy for him in this book. He put himself into the situation that led him to kill a man because he lost his faith.

    I’ve never been in the holocaust, and it is unfair for me to pretend to know Elie’s suffering, but if there is one thing I learned from Fiddler on the Roof, it is that no one, no matter how powerful or threatening, can take away faith. It is inherent in all people and we are trained to either run with it or leave it behind. Elie left it behind when he went he joined the Movement and from that moment on in the novel, I could not and did not agree with any of his actions and felt little to no sympathy towards him.

    That said, and noting the fact that I did love Night much more than Dawn, I do have to say that this was a beautifully crafted story, as is expected from the brilliant literary mind of Elie Weisel. I have no doubt that I will be finishing the trilogy with Day this summer.

    See you all in class tomorrow! xo

  17. danielleneadwork

    Hi again everyone 🙂

    So I thought I pressed post comment earlier but apparently not and so now my entire fourth blog post is gone! I am short on time so I will attempt to sum up what I said and create some sort of similar post.

    Sydney, in response to your question, I think that the flashbacks are not necessarily crucial to the main plot of Dawn, although they are still important to the novel. Each flashback and side story added insight to some character or scene of the book and I found them all quite interesting as well. I also think that without them, the story would have been much shorter than it already is, and they added a lot more substance to the story. I also agree with you that as a specific example, they showed Elie’s wandering mind and ways to put off the execution. I think adding all of the suspense during the story caused the reader to have a sliver of hope to avoid the inevitability of the execution, although it still came in the end as a bit more of a surprise, as it was inevitable. It seemed as if it was the always-coming dawn that one cannot avoid.

    Also Sydney, I just wanted to clear up that I was not saying that someone had to be necessarily mentally ill to join a terrorist group, but not normal (hence the mentally skewed-maybe not the best word for this, but it does the job). This could come from any environmental or personal influences in their lives, causing them to be skewed people, but I do not personally believe that there are just generally “bad people.” This goes to say that I also do not believe that there are inherently bad people either that are just meant to join terrorist groups. This reminds of fate vs. free will, and I think that we could have differing opinions forever on this subject so we will just have to agree to disagree. Anyways though, speaking of this theme in relation to the book, I think that Elisha definitely was influenced by free will when joining the terrorist group and it was free will that led him to the dreaded execution. His decisions ultimately brought him here and others could have changed the outcome at the drop of a dime. I think that this is well demonstrated by three quotes from Dawn:

    “How are we ever to disarm evil and abolish death as a means to an end?”
    “She is gazing out into the night, and the night has a thousand eyes, which are mine.”
    “And yet, this tale about despair becomes a story against despair.”

    All three of these quotes show Elisha watching over and talking about stopping the evil and despair that he has experienced so much of, but ultimately, he makes the decision himself to do nothing about it. I was disappointed when he merely went along with the terrorist group that he had been a part of and for just going along with the execution, which I was hoping he would rebel and stand up for himself. I found this very anti-climactic, especially because of what usually might happen in other stories with a hero in the end. But, I also find this ending effective for Wiesel because it allows him to set a more realistic ending for the time and situation and to show how life does not always work out so well like the perfect storybook often does.

    It came to mind as I was just finishing this up the second time, that perhaps Dawn is the true story of Elie Wiesel, but he did not want to take it as his own. So, he wrote Day based off of other’s experiences around him and then called the main character in Dawn, Elisha, a close name to his own in the first place. I think this because Day seems like it is a more relatable situation for people during the Holocaust based off of different works I have read, and Dawn sounds like a specific situation that Elie knew really well and was able to easily share many backstories and side notes for. I’m not sure, it is just a possible theory haha. 🙂

  18. hadleycorwin

    Hello everyone,

    First of all I would like to address the mentally skewed/disturbed mentality that Danielle has been arguing that all terrorists have. I strongly disagree with this for many reasons. First of all, many members are very young when they join and may be vulnerable, insecure about their own self worth, or honestly believe in the cause they are fighting for. In Dawn, the characters are terrorists who fight for a cause they desperately believe in with all of their being, and Elisha feels like he should do his part by joining them. A fictional example of the vulnerability of children is Romeo and Juliet when both main characters are blinded by the intense emotions, strong will, and brash decision making that all teenagers experience, and end up killing, just as Elisha does. So why do terrorists feel the need to use such violent methods to achieve their goals? Sometimes it is the only way to call attention to their cause. I am not defending terrorist organizations such as Isis who kill purely out of hatred, I am simply arguing against the point that all terrorists have something chemically wrong with their minds. I’m sorry to dwell on this so much, but one last thing- if America entered a war and we used terrorist tactics to attain victory, no one would think of terrorism in such a negative way. Once again, I am NOT saying that terrorism/violence is good! Sorry to write so much about this, but I do feel that discussing the morality of terrorism is incredibly important and relevant when talking about Dawn.

    I found how Wiesel wrote about victims to be interesting and thought-provoking: “the seated victim, the standing executioner… no human being would ever understand me as he understood me at this hour. Yet I knew that this was solely on account of the roles that were imposed on us” (69). John Dawson sees Elisha exactly as he is. A boy forced to take on responsibility that no grown man ought to have, a boy suffering, just a boy, a boy murderer. But it is not a deep understanding, just a true understanding, a communication created because of “the roles” that the men are forced to adopt. Another quote that speaks to victims is on 67 when Wiesel talks about the natural, ancient roles of victim and oppressor. Isn’t it sad that these are such common roles in society?

    One thing that became clearer than ever while reading the second half of dawn was the concept of identity. I found Elie’s perspective of identity and what makes up a person’s identity interesting- it reminded me of the short story we read during our identity unit about how when you are ten years old you are also nine, eight, seven, etc. This was represented by all of the ghosts Elisha encounters while he waits for dawn to arrive.

    I think that the flashbacks were a vital part of the story, particularly Elisha’s interactions with the ghosts of his past. I think Dawn presents the message that it is necessary to accept death and people you have lost. Accepting and embracing death is a natural and important part of life, which Wiesel expresses through these scenes. I am sure that there is a reason for everything that Wiesel put into this book, and am positive that deeper analysis and look into the symbolism, analogies, etc. of the novel would reveal this. Also, of course, the flashbacks support the theme of identity, and how the past shapes the person one becomes.I think that Wiesel meant for Dawn to stir up conversation about death, the meaning of death, and how to recover/accept death.

    Lastly, I liked the ending; it felt like a natural closing point. Elisha has done his task, and has already accepted what he is about to do, the identity that he is about to adopt, before he pulls the trigger.
    It was a pleasure to blog with you ladies!

  19. danielleneadwork

    Night and Dawn by Elie Wiesel 7/10

    Overall, I gave these two books a 7/10, because although they were interesting as a whole, they were not outstanding compared to some other books I have read. I enjoyed Night more than I did Dawn. This is because Night’s story grabbed my attention and really interested me the entire time I was reading it. But, I think that Dawn, partly because it came after Night in the trilogy, was not as impactful as I was hoping as I read it because it was just another version of a Holocaust literature that merely felt tacked on for substance and wasn’t as important. I feel like it would have been more interesting if Wiesel had spent some time analyzing some situations instead because I actually liked MSM like this and I feel like if the anecdotes and studies are carefully crafted and placed into the story, it actually adds insight and makes the book even better. But even without this, I still relatively enjoyed the book as I went through the trilogy.

    One thing I haven’t mentioned yet in my blog posts was that I found it just a little bit surprising that in Dawn, Elisha was joining the terrorist group to ultimately work for the creation of a Zionist state. I mean, I realize it is a completely different story than Night, but in Night, Elie was so aloof about religion in the camps that I didn’t think he would ever write about and work towards its importance, even if he wasn’t necessarily writing about himself.
    In the end, we don’t really know who Elie Wiesel was writing about in each story and different scenarios, although the details are all so real and gripping that one knows he went through at least similar experiences.

    One of my favorite parts of these books was probably the interactions between the characters because they all acted so human and real, which was something I really enjoyed, especially in Night. I found myself often connecting to a variety of these quotes, making it impossible to record one here, but I could often relate. I especially took notice of and liked the relationship between Elie and the lady in the factory house as they silently got to know each other and saw each other later in the story. This was one heart-wrenching part of the story, as with most stories like these, and I was particularly intrigued at their constantly surprised reactions to each other.

    I would recommend this trilogy by Elie Wiesel to any young adult to adults who maybe have some background in the Holocaust, but are looking for a book of this genre to read that is different from all the ones the person might have already read in the past, because at least Night does this for sure. Also though I would recommend it to anyone pretty much looking for an intriguing book to read because it really does provide an interesting story that was definitely worthwhile and I am glad I finally read it after wanting to for a couple of years and not ever getting to it. i will be continuing into reading Day this summer and I hope it is pretty good too! As Hadley put it rightfully so, “It was a pleasure to blog with you ladies!”

    Also, side note: if I was as talented as Holly, I would bring y’all cheescake as a celebration for finishing, but unfortunately I’m not so thanks guys it has been fun! and only a week of school left!! hope we are all in the same english class next year :)))

  20. danielleneadwork

    ok I apologize for saying y’all up there I was really tired that night and looking back I am thoroughly embarrassed hahaha

  21. margosidline

    Hey guys! Okay, last post… the review!
    I’m going to keep this brief… If I’m doing stars, I give this series three out of five stars.

    I thought that Night was a tragically beautiful story and the same with Dawn, however the plot was a bit more engaging than Night. (I do need to apologize for my last post… somehow I was unaware that Dawn was fictionalized, so thank you Sydney for giving me that clarification. All in all though, I stand by what I said and I think that I would be thinking the same thing whether the story was fiction or non-fiction.)

    I personally have been feeling a bit done with holocaust literature, so I honestly found the books hard to get through. This had less to do with the book itself, but more with the frame of mind that I am in currently. That said, I have no regrets about reading Weisel’s work.

    As far as literature from such a sad time period goes, this is probably one of the more enthralling and unique that I’ve read. He is able to capture an entirely new perspective that to me seems to combine Victor Frankl and Leon Uris- if that makes any sense at all!

    I absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for holocaust literature from a new perspective. Of all that I’ve read, Night stands out as one of the better novels. It is truly special. (In my first two posts I recapped some of my thoughts on that unique perspective!)

    While we weren’t as strict as we could have been with our posting dates and our discussion/analysis, I had a lovely time reading this book with you all and am glad that we chose it. I know 3/5 seems like a low rating, but I did really enjoy reading Night… though I did not like Dawn nearly as much as I thought I would.

    I wish you all the best of luck on your final exams and hope you have a wonderful summer!!

  22. LAST POST!!!!!!! Finally. Its almost summer!!!!! YAYYAYYAY. Anyways, now for the review.

    I would give Night an 7 out of 10 and Dawn a 6 out of 10.

    I enjoyed reading Night, as it gave a authentic and evocative narrative. Although I have read many books about the Holocaust, Night stood out as it was moving and revealed the true thoughts and emotions a concentration camp prisoner experienced. Wiesel’s struggle to rationalize the suffering he was having to endure was thought-provoking, as was the evolution of Wiesel’s relationship with his father. Finishing the book, I wanted to learn more about Wiesel’s life after being freed from the concentration camp. I thought that Dawn would be the continuation of Wiesel’s story. Of course, this was false, and I was slightly disappointed.

    Dawn was a intriguing book, but had many unanswered questions that lessened the impact of the story. The reader was given little information about Elisha, and so his decision to be part of the terrorist group and to kill the British officer seemed strange. However, the story did bring up interesting questions about holocaust survivor’s life after being released from a concentration camp and what motivates terrorists to do what they do. Elisha was not evil or a fanatic. He was searching for answers and the terrorist organization gave him a purpose and a way to guarantee that the Jewish people would be safe from persecution in the future.

    It was enjoyable blogging with you guys and I hope you all have a fabulous summer. Good luck on your finals!!!!

  23. sydneyvonarx

    RIP Elie Wiesel. Such a shame that such a talented and peaceable voice is no longer with us.

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