Presentation on theme: "By Elie Wiesel. If in my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one. Just as the past lingers in the present, all my writings after."— Presentation transcript:
By Elie Wiesel
If in my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one. Just as the past lingers in the present, all my writings after Night, including those that deal with biblical, Talmudic, or Hasidic themes, profoundly bear its stamp, and cannot be understood if one has not read this very first of my works. Why did I write it? Did I write it so as not to go mad or, on the contrary, to go mad in order to understand the nature of madness, the immense, terrifying madness that had erupted in history and in the conscience of mankind?
Was it to leave behind a legacy of words, of memories, to help prevent history from repeating itself? Or was it simply to preserve a record of the ordeal I endured as an adolescent, at an age when one’s knowledge of death and evil should be limited to what one discovers in literature? There are those who tell me that I survived in order to write this text. I am not convinced. I don’t know how I survived; I was weak, rather shy; I did nothing to save myself. A miracle? Certainly not. If heaven could or would perform a miracle for me, why not for the others more deserving than myself? It was nothing more than chance. However, having survived, I needed to give some meaning to my survival. Was it to protect that meaning that I set to paper an experience in which nothing made any sense? In retrospect I must confess that I do not know, or no longer know, what I wanted to achieve with my words. I only know that without this testimony, my life as a writer—or my life, period—would not have become what it is: that of a witness who believes he has a moral obligation to try to prevent the enemy from enjoying one last victory by allowing his crimes to be erased from human memory.
Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
Themes The struggle to maintain faith: In the beginning Elie’s faith is absolute. His faith is shaken by the cruelty and evil he witnesses. Begins to feel that if the world is so disgusting and cruel then God must either be disgusting and cruel or not exist at all. The fact that he is questions reflects his inherent commitment to God. Although he is forever changed Elizer emerges with his faith intact.
Themes Silence Silence of God: how can an all- knowing, all-powerful God allow such horror and cruelty occur, especially to such devout worshipers? The Jews expected to be saved by an angel as Isaac was when Abraham was commanded to sacrifice him. God’s silence demonstrates the absence of divine compassion Silence of the victims: overall lack of resistance to the Nazi threat Suggests that passivity and silence are what allowed the Holocaust to continue Night is an attempt to break the silence: to tell loudly and boldly the atrocities of the Holocaust
Themes Inhumanity towards other humans The revelation of how horrible people can be to one another Incomprehensible aspect of the Holocaust: how human beings can so callously slaughter millions of innocent victims Cruelty breeds cruelty The cruelty of the camp turns prisoners against each other Self-preservation became the highest virtue
Themes Father-Son Bonds The camp and the need to survive ruptures familial bonds Elie discusses instances where sons sacrifice their fathers in order to save themselves. Despite his love and care for his father, Elie feels that he has somehow sacrificed his father for his own safety. Elie demonstrates that his relationship with his father was stronger than his instinct for self- preservation. Elie’s father Chlomo + Elie
Symbols Fire Symbol of the Nazis’ cruel power Agent of destruction in the crematoria The wicked who wield the power of fire use it to punish the innocent.
Symbols Night Symbolize a world without God’s presence Always occurs when suffering is the worst Presence reflects Eliezer’s belief that he lives in a world without God. Elie first arrives at Birkenau/Auschwitz at night The prisoners begin their horrible run from Buna at night
Motifs Tradition: A people without a country/home—as a result memory and tradition play a significant role in Jewish life Judaism relies on customs, observances, and traditions passed down from generation to generation as the markers of cultural identity The Holocaust was an attempt to wipe out this cultural identity Conversation & Storytelling are important elements of Jewish folk tradition Chlomo’s storytelling symbolizes Jewish culture as a whole. gw
Motifs Religious Observance: Memoir begins with many references to religion and religious observance By the end of the book almost all mentions of Jewish observance have vanished Jewish tradition and beliefs indirectly hold the foundation of the book.