The Symbol Of Night In Elie Wiesel's Memoir

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The title ‘Night’ of Elie Wiesel’s memoir symbolizes death. The death of innocence, childhood, faith and millions of individuals. Wiesel wrote his memoir to shed light on his experiences within Nazi concentration camps, during the 20th centuary. This essay will thoroughly describe the important symbol of night. It will then further explain why this symbol is so effective within the text.

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Night. The period of time from sunset to sunrise in every 24 hours. Within Wiesel’s memoir, the symbol of night is purposefully and repetitively used. For example, “Night fell.” This is the first time Wiesel references night within his memoir. During this time, Elie, his family and many others are living within the ghetto. All of a sudden, while telling a story to his peers, Chlomo is summoned to a special meeting of the council, where he receives some unpleasant news. Within this situation, the symbol night is used to create tension, and contrast to the time spent just moments before. Wiesel also used the symbol to foreshadow the atrocities to come. This is why the symbol night is so effective within the memoir. It effortlessly portrays the suspense and tension Wiesel experienced at the time, while still having literal meaning.

As mentioned previously, Wiesel crafts the symbol night throughout his memoir. For example, “There was nothing. Only the darkness of night.” This is mentioned during the cattle car ride to Birkenau. A middle aged woman named Mrs Schachter is screaming “Look! Look at this fire! This is terrible fire! Have mercy on me!” Many pressed against the bars to see, however no fire was in sight. This is when the symbol night is mentioned. In this instance, night symbolizes the fear of the unknown and the hopelessness of their situation. Once again, this shows the effectiveness of the symbol night within Wiesel’s memoir. While not only giving literal meaning, it also demonstrates the pain and suffering night produces, and how this is inevitable for Elie and his peers.

The symbol night is effective throughout the entire memoir, however, it is most effective during the death march. A death ,arch is a forced march in which individuals are left to die during the journey. During the memoir Wiesel reports how his father, himself, along with their inmates were forced to march 42 miles after evacuating Buna. After the march they were shoved onto open roof cattle cars and sent to Buchenwald. During the cattle car ride they endured freezing temperatures and were given no food, which unfortunately took the lives of many. It is during this time Wiesel references the symbol night, “and the night seemed endless.” This symbolizes the torture and agony Wiesel and many others experienced. The symbol further demonstrates how Wiesel thought their suffering was never going to end. Once again the symbol night is very effective. This is because it describes the atrocities Elie faced and how he saw these as a never ending battle.

This essay has described and explained how the important symbol of night is so effective during the memoir. In particular, this essay has described how the symbol of night explains the attrocites Elie faced under Nazi control. By doing so, it helps us understand Wiesel’s purpose for writing the memoir, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.” Unfortunately, despite Wiesel’s intentions, individuals are still enduring suffering to this day. For example Syria has a military prison (‘Human slaughterhouse’) where thousands of innocent civilians are being killed. This goes to show that even now individuals are still struggling to escape the torment of night.  

16 December 2021

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