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The book Night is a memoir of Elie Wiesel, his family, and other fellow Jewish practicing people’s experiences during the Holocaust. The word Holocaust is used when there is “destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war.” – Google Dictionary. The Holocaust that Night is written about was specifically the people who practiced the Jewish religion. In the average life, there are many important decisions to make including choosing your Career path, buying a house, and knowing when to quit. Many people do not have the same major decisions that Eliezer, his family and other people that practiced the Jewish religion faced. Each and every decision they were faced with could lead to death which made the decisions pressured and very important. Elie Wiesel was a Jewish adolescent who was abducted from his small town of Sighet and taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp in cattle cars with 79 other Jews. In this essay I will analyze Eliezer’s experiences, such as struggles with maintaining faith in his God/religion, with inhumanity, and with mental health. These decisions Eliezer made have impacted him throughout the story along with his life.
During Elie’s time leading up to the Holocaust as well as his time in the concentration camp, Elie and other Jews were punished for who they were and what they believed in. At the beginning of the situation, the Jews were forced to wear a yellow star known as the Star of David. This symbol used to be a symbol for their religion, tying in mankind with god (the two triangles one pointing to the sky/God and the other to mankind). The Star of David was forcefully changed and put upon the Jews during the Holocaust to symbolize martyrdom which means someone who dies or suffers for advocating, it turned their religious symbol into a target. “Some of the men spoke of God: His mysterious ways, the sins of the Jewish people, and the redemption to come. As for me, I had ceased to pray. I concurred with Job! I was not denying His existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.” In this quote by Eliezer, he has stopped praying as he is awaiting a transfer to another camp, he had been separated from all his family except for his father. He was uncertain whether his sisters and mother were alive or had been killed and demonstrated a major loss in faith from this quote. “How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in the furnaces? Praised be Thy Holy Name, for having chosen us to be slaughtered on Thine altar?” Said Eliezer when in the Buna concentration camp on the Jewish new year when many prisoners assembled to form a solemn service in the memoir Night. Eliezer didn’t feel comfortable praising the God that had allowed for many of his kinds to be slaughtered.
Not only did Eliezer’s struggle affect him religiously it had also affected his views on humanity. Eliezer, after being treated so poorly and losing his father and two sisters to the Holocaust, lost trust in humanity. Not only did the mistreatment that the Nazi’s gave each other effect his views on humanity, but how his own people treated each other during such a hard time that has also made a major impact on Eliezer. Eliezer’s experience of the Holocaust showed him just how terrible a human being can really get. At the beginning of the book when Eliezer was first introduced to the Nazi’s in the book Night he stated “Our first impressions of the Germans were most reassuring. Their attitude toward their hosts was distant but polite.” He quickly learned otherwise during one of his first experiences with the Nazi’s. Where they shipped them in a cattle car of 80 Jews with two buckets of water and a basket of bread for a 3-day train ride to their first concentration camp. IN that same experience of t6he Holocaust it is where he saw his first example of his own people mistreating each other in the first ride there. During a time like the Holocaust where one kind is being punished, one would think that kind would stick together instead of bashing poor old Madame Schächter for seeing a flame and screaming during this scary time.
In the missed treatment of people he had witnessed in the holocaust it affected his view on humanity, as well as took a toll on his mental health. After the exposure of mistreatment in the holocaust he began to have rash thoughts, these rash thoughts were leading to suicidal thoughts and just giving up. In the memoir when Eliezer arrived at the concentration camp Auschwitz, he stated ’’It would be easier to run into the barbed wire… easier than a slow death in the flames… if I was going to kill myself this was the time’’ this quote states that even in the beginning of the Holocaust Eliezer had thoughts of suicide from the mistreatment and fear of other types of death. The quote also shows Eliezer knew his odds of making it out alive were very slim. 70 % of mental illnesses are onset during early childhood and adolescence according to The CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health). This means children and adolescents in the Holocaust were extra prone to mental health illness.
Elie Wiesel had faced many challenges throughout his life especially in the 1940s facing the Holocaust. In the Holocaust, Eliezer had struggles with maintaining faith in his God/Religion, with inhumanity, and with mental health because of the graphic things Eliezer had to endure during his time in the concentration camps. These struggles have impacted him throughout the story and throughout his whole life.
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