How Does Deception Dehumanize?

Updated 30 September, 2024
Elie Wiesel shows the unfavourable effects of self-deception through the theme of lies and deceit implemented in his memoir, Night. The treatment by the Nazis deceives the prisoners into thinking they are little more than creatures living meal to meal. Eliezer and others internalize the way the Nazis see them until their culture and social bonds are destroyed.
Detailed answer:

In the book Night by Elie Wiesel, the author chronicles his own story as a holocaust survivor who endures many hardships during his time in the concentration camps. One theme that Wiesel incorporates throughout the novel is how deceit leads to dehumanization.
While there is no doubt that there are multiple major themes and symbols throughout Night, the theme ‘lies and deceit’ and its destructiveness to the Jewish people is clearly one of them. In this instance, Wiesel uses metaphors to better communicate this theme. Deception - especially self-deception- plays a major role in Night. Self-deception has two common results in Night. In some cases it involves lifting spirits and providing hope, but also involves deluding the Jewish people and making them vulnerable. “It was as though she was possessed by some evil spirit” laments Elie as he watched what he believed to be Madame Schächter going mad. Refusing to listen to Madame Schächter on the train, the other Jews labelled her as crazy. Wiesel depicts this situation using a metaphor. He writes of how it seemed as if she was possessed, giving the reader an idea of just how mistaken the Jewish people were. Not only did Wiesel write of self-deception, but about being deceived as well. With the use of a metaphor once more Wiesel writes, “All of a sudden, this pleasant and intelligent young man had changed. His eyes were shining with greed”. Detailing the greed blinding his inmates eyes, Wiesel paints a picture of dishonesty in the reader's mind to show exactly how each camp tore the Jewish people apart. Being a young boy thrown into the void that was the Holocaust, Elie knew not of how evil man could be. Looking back upon his experiences later on he laments that, “One person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death”. In a time riddled with confusion Wiesel was able to communicate how detrimental all forms of lies and deceit proved to be.

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