Question: Describe at least one important event in the text. Explain how this event had a positive OR negative effect.
Three important events in the text “Night” by Elie Wiesel are Madame Schacter’s visions of flames while the Jews are being transported to Auscwitz in a cattle car, the hanging of the pipel boy, and the death of Shlomo Wiesel. These events show themes of death and cruelty which recur throughout the text. In this text, the author shows the dangers of discrimination towards humanity and how cruelty and darkness can dehumanise people.
One of the key events in Night is when the Jews from Sighet are being transported to Auschwitz in a cattle car and one of them, Madame Schacter, starts screaming, saying she sees a fire. This foreshadows the furnaces for cremating bodies in Auschwitz and also the metaphorical burning of Elie’s faith in god later in the text on Elie’s first night in Auschwitz when Elie states: “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.”, showing how Elie no longer believes that God will help them using the language feature, “metaphor”. At first the rest of the Jews in the cattle car are sympathetic towards Madame Schacter but as she continues to scream they gag her and beat her until she is quiet. Here the author highlights the way that when placed under poor conditions, humans can become inhumane and can treat people that would otherwise be their allies, with cruelty which is a common motif repeated throughout the text.
Another important event in Night is when the pipel boy is hanged by the Nazi’s after Elie and his father, Shlomo, have been transferred to Buna. The pipel boy was a young boy who was the servant of the Oberkapo (prisoner assigned as chief foreman) of the fifty-second Cable Kommando who was found to be involved in sabotaging the camp. Both the pipel boy and the Oberkapo were tortured, but neither said anything. As punishment, the Oberkapo was transferred to Auschwitz and the pipel boy was hanged as all of the Jews in Buna watched. The pipel boy was so light however, that he was not killed immediately and that he had to be left hanging until he died. Here the author highlights the cruelty and brutality that can arise from discrimination. Before the rise of the Nazis, most Germans wouldn’t have hung a small boy from their own country and would have looked down on any form of violence against children. However, because of the hate against Jewish people that has been instilled in them, they will not only murder a small child, but let that small child suffer. As Elie is watching, he hears someone behind him say “For God’s sake, where is God?” After this Elie states: "I heard a voice within me answer him: “Where is he? This is where - hanging here on this gallows…” This is the moment that Elie has lost all faith in God due to the cruelty he has witnessed at the camp, shown by Elie using God as a metaphor for the pipel boy. By saying that God is hanging, it is shown that Elie’s faith in god is dying.
A third important event in Night is when Elie Wiesel’s father, Shlomo Wiesel, dies. After being moved to Buchenwald concentration camp, Shlomo begins to suffer from dysentery. This gets worse as time goes by until it is clear that it will be fatal. While Elie helps his father, giving him his rations, he does this grudgefully stating “I thought deep down, not daring to admit it to myself. Too late to save your old father… You could have two rations of bread, two rations of soup…” Like the beating of Madame Schacter, this shows the theme of inhumanity caused by poor conditions. Normally, Elie would not mind giving his father his food to help him stay alive, however, after being limited to rations and as a result, also starving, he wants to keep his food. After Shlomo dies, Elie states “I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I was out of tears. And deep inside me, if I could have searched the recesses of my feeble conscience, I might have found something like: Free at last!” Here the author highlights the way that cruelty and dehumanisation can make one emotionless and inhumane, showing that after all that Elie has been through, he cannot be sad for his father’s death and deep down knows that it helps his chances of survival.
Overall, the text Night has the recurring themes of cruelty and hopelessness. The latter of these is represented by darkness which is a piece of imagery that reoccurs throughout the text. The author uses these themes to show the effects of discrimination and how people can change when constantly treated cruelty as well as how cruel humans can be. An example of this is when Elie states “One day when we had come to a stop, a worker took a piece of bread out of his bag and threw it into a wagon. There was a stampede. Dozens of starving men fought desperately over a few crumbs.”, showing that after being starved, the Jews will do anything for food. Three important events that occurred in the text were: Mrs Schacter’s visions while being transported to Auschwitz, the hanging of the pipel boy, and the death of Shlomo Wiesel. These were important because they showed changes in Elie’s character, showed recurring themes throughout the text, and helped to convey the authors message to the reader.