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Selfishness in Night by Elie Wiesel

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Words: 760 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Words: 760|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Selfishness in the Camps
  2. The Betrayal of Family
  3. The Dehumanization of Others
  4. Conclusion

Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night, is a poignant account of his experiences during the Holocaust. Through his narrative, Wiesel exposes the depths of human suffering and the capacity for cruelty within individuals. Within this context, the theme of selfishness emerges as a crucial element in the narrative. Wiesel’s portrayal of selfishness illustrates how it can lead to the degradation of moral values, the erosion of empathy, and the perpetuation of suffering. This essay will explore the manifestations of selfishness in Night, examining how it is depicted through the actions of individuals and its impact on the broader human experience during the Holocaust.

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Selfishness in the Camps

One of the most striking aspects of selfishness in Night is its prevalence within the concentration camps. As Wiesel recounts the dehumanizing conditions in which he and his fellow prisoners were forced to exist, he exposes the ways in which selfishness thrived in this environment. The instinct for self-preservation led many individuals to prioritize their own survival at the expense of others. This is exemplified in the way in which prisoners would hoard food, steal from one another, or betray their fellow inmates in order to gain favor with the camp authorities.

Wiesel himself acknowledges his own struggle with selfishness, describing how he felt a sense of relief when someone else suffered in his place. He writes, “Every man has to fight for himself and not think of anyone else. Even of his father” (Wiesel 87). This passage illustrates the internal conflict that Wiesel grapples with, torn between the instinct to prioritize his own survival and the moral imperative to care for his father. The pervasive atmosphere of self-interest within the camps serves as a stark reminder of the corrosive impact of selfishness on the human spirit.

The Betrayal of Family

Another dimension of selfishness in Night is the betrayal of familial bonds. Wiesel’s relationship with his father serves as a central focus of the memoir, and through their experiences, the impact of selfishness on family dynamics is brought to the forefront. As the conditions in the camps worsen, Wiesel describes how the instinct for self-preservation led some individuals to distance themselves from their own family members. This is evident in the way in which some sons abandoned their fathers, or vice versa, in order to increase their own chances of survival.

Wiesel’s own conflicted feelings towards his father reflect the internal struggle that many individuals faced in this regard. He grapples with feelings of guilt and resentment, acknowledging that at times he felt a sense of relief at the thought of his father’s death. This internal conflict underscores the ways in which selfishness can erode the bonds of love and compassion that should exist within families. The betrayal of family members for the sake of self-preservation serves as a tragic manifestation of the destructive power of selfishness.

The Dehumanization of Others

Selfishness in Night is also depicted through the dehumanization of others. As the prisoners endure unimaginable suffering, the instinct for self-preservation often leads to a devaluation of the lives of others. This is evident in the way in which individuals would trample over one another in order to secure a place in the food line, or the callous indifference with which some prisoners would witness the suffering of their fellow inmates.

Wiesel reflects on this aspect of selfishness, noting how the prisoners became desensitized to the suffering of others as they struggled to survive. He writes, “The condemned live as if they no longer existed, as if their lives no longer belonged to them” (Wiesel 107). This passage encapsulates the dehumanizing impact of selfishness, illustrating how it can lead individuals to become detached from the suffering of others, and in turn, contribute to the perpetuation of that suffering. The dehumanization of others serves as a powerful indictment of the ways in which selfishness can corrode the fundamental values of empathy and compassion.

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Conclusion

Elie Wiesel’s Night offers a searing portrayal of the impact of selfishness on the human experience during the Holocaust. Through his narrative, Wiesel exposes the ways in which selfishness manifested within the concentration camps, leading to the degradation of moral values, the erosion of empathy, and the perpetuation of suffering. The memoir serves as a powerful reminder of the destructive power of selfishness and the importance of resisting its corrosive influence. By confronting the manifestations of selfishness in Night, readers are compelled to reflect on the enduring relevance of this theme and its implications for the broader human experience.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Selfishness in Night by Elie Wiesel. (2024, March 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/selfishness-in-night-by-elie-wiesel/
“Selfishness in Night by Elie Wiesel.” GradesFixer, 20 Mar. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/selfishness-in-night-by-elie-wiesel/
Selfishness in Night by Elie Wiesel. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/selfishness-in-night-by-elie-wiesel/> [Accessed 17 Jun. 2024].
Selfishness in Night by Elie Wiesel [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 20 [cited 2024 Jun 17]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/selfishness-in-night-by-elie-wiesel/
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