What Does The Mirror Symbolize In The Night?1

Updated 14 August, 2023
In "The Night" by Elie Wiesel, the mirror symbolizes the loss of identity and the profound impact of the Holocaust on the protagonist's sense of self. As Eliezer gazes into the mirror after his liberation from the concentration camp, he encounters a hollow, emaciated figure, disconnected from his former self. The mirror serves as a reflection of the physical and emotional devastation inflicted by the atrocities of the Holocaust, highlighting the destruction of his innocence, faith, and identity. It encapsulates the theme of self-discovery in the face of unimaginable suffering.
Detailed answer:

In Elie Wiesel's memoir "Night," the mirror symbolizes the profound transformation of the protagonist, Eliezer, due to the horrors of the Holocaust. The mirror scene occurs towards the end of the narrative when Eliezer is liberated from the concentration camp. As he looks into a mirror for the first time in a long while, he encounters a frail, skeletal figure with haunted eyes that he hardly recognizes as himself.
The mirror serves as a powerful symbol of the loss of identity and the obliteration of humanity experienced by those who survived the Holocaust. Eliezer's reflection shows a physical shell of a person, a stark contrast to the vibrant and hopeful young boy he once was before the atrocities. The mirror reflects not only the external effects of the starvation, abuse, and suffering endured in the concentration camps, but also the internal transformation of his psyche. It highlights how the trauma and dehumanization of the Holocaust have stripped him of his innocence, faith, and sense of self.
Throughout the memoir, Eliezer's identity is tested and altered by the horrors he witnesses and endures. The mirror scene serves as a culmination of this transformation, emphasizing the deep emotional scars left by the Holocaust. His reflection represents the fractured self, torn between the past and the present, the innocent boy and the survivor who has witnessed and experienced unspeakable brutality.
Moreover, the mirror symbolizes the theme of self-discovery. While Eliezer's physical appearance has changed dramatically, the true revelation lies in his understanding of the darkness within humanity and himself. The mirror becomes a metaphorical mirror of his soul, reflecting not just his physical image, but the internal struggle, guilt, and pain that he carries. It highlights the contrast between his previous naivety and the harsh reality he now comprehends. The mirror scene underscores the emotional and psychological journey he undertakes, revealing the complexity of his emotions and his quest to reconcile his experiences with his sense of self.

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