- Explain how the beginning and / or ending was important to the text as a whole.
The beginning and ending of the book “Night” are both important to the text as a whole as they show how the protagonist, Elie Wiesel, has changed throughout the book as a result of the horrors that he has faced at the hands of the Nazis. They also show contrasting themes throughout the text.
In the beginning of Night, Elie Wiesel is 12 years old and living in a small town called Sighet. He is very faithful to God and is good friends with a man called Moishe the Beadle, a foreign Jew that works at the Hasidic synagogue. He is Elie’s religious mentor. As the Nazi’s begin to invade Sighet, they expel all foreign Jews. Moishe, along with hundreds of other foreign Jews, is loaded onto a train, then offloaded and taken into the woods, where all of the foreign Jews are forced by the Nazi’s to dig their own graves and are then shot. Moishe is only shot in the leg and pretends to be dead until the Nazis are gone. He then escapes and returns to Sighet to warn others of what the Nazi’s will do to them but no one listens.
Ellie describes Moishe after this event, writing: “Moishe was not the same. The glow in his eyes was gone. He no longer sang. He no longer mentioned either God or Kabbalah. He spoke only of what he had seen.” This shows how cruelty can change someone and also shows hopelessness, which is a motif in the book. This reoccurs later in the text when it is Elie’s first night in Auschwitz after Elie has seen Jewish babies being thrown into pits of fire when Elie writes: “Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust.” Describing the theme of darkness which, in the text represents hopelessness and also describing how Elie has already started to lose his faith in God due to the intense cruelty of the Nazis at the concentration camp. It also foreshadows what will happen to Ellie Wiesel and all Jews that will be sent to the concentration camps, both physically and mentally.
At the end of the text “Night”, after Elie has been liberated from the Nazis, Elie musters the strength to look in the mirror, writing that he had not seen himself since he was in the ghetto. Elie describes seeing his own reflection: “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes has never left me.” This is important to the text as it shows how the cruelty (which is a recurring theme throughout the text) of the Nazi’s has changed him as a person and relates back to his description of Moishe the Beadle. Showing that Elie has changed the same way that Moishe did.