Foreshadowing in Night by Elie Wiesel

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  • 0:01 What Is Foreshadowing?
  • 0:51 Foreshadowing in Sighet
  • 2:42 Mrs. Schachter's Visions
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Liz Breazeale
Foreshadowing is a tool used by authors to increase tension and suspense in a novel or story. There are several examples of foreshadowing to be found in Elie Wiesel's famed 'Night', as you'll discover in this lesson.

What is Foreshadowing?

Can you remember a time, whether in your real life or when you've been reading, when the hair on the back of your neck stood up and then you thought, 'Uh oh. That's not a good sign.' Lo and behold, five minutes later, or a hundred pages later, you were proved right.

That's kind of the purpose of foreshadowing, a literary technique used by authors to give an advance hint or teaser about upcoming events that will occur later in the story. This can sometimes give the astute reader a heads up about something, or it can increase tension. Either way, it keeps you turning the page!

In Night, Elie Wiesel uses foreshadowing to increase tension but also to give the reader a sense of dread. Like, you know something horrible is going to happen - this is a book about the Holocaust, after all - and small moments only make that pit in your stomach grow deeper.

Foreshadowing in Sighet

The book starts in Sighet, the small, secluded hometown of the protagonist and narrator, Eliezer, who is a young teen when the story begins. It's also here that the first examples of foreshadowing occur.

Maybe the most blatant example of foreshadowing comes from a character named Moishe. Moishe is an old man who befriends young Eliezer and teaches him about Kabbalah, but he's removed from Sighet along with all the other foreign Jews and taken to Poland by the Germans. They force the Jews into the woods, making them dig their own mass grave. They then shoot each man, woman, and child - but Moishe escapes and returns to Sighet.

Moishe warns everyone he can find about the Nazis and their plan. He tells the entire town to prepare, to get out, because something awful is coming. Eliezer tells the reader, 'He spoke only of what he had seen.' Nobody believes him except for you, the reader, because you know from history what is about to happen. This is really the first example of foreshadowing, as it foretells the abuse the Jews will suffer at the hands of the Nazis. It also foreshadows the desire the Nazis have to exterminate every Jew in Europe, something the Sighet townspeople don't want to believe.

On page 9, a radio announcement: 'German troops had penetrated Hungary with the government's approval.' The radio also announces that Budapest Jews are now living in fear - sadly, this, too, foreshadows the policies and anti-Semitic laws that will inevitably come to Sighet.

On page 13, after the Jews have been transferred to the ghettoes, Eliezer's mother says,' I have a bad feeling...This afternoon I saw new faces in the ghetto. Two German officers, I believe they were Gestapo...' who they haven't seen at all since their move. Again, this foreshadows what comes next: roundup and transportation.

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