Important Quotes from Night by Elie Wiesel: Analysis

Instructor: Amy Kousch

Amy has taught English and communications courses and has a master's degree in agricultural communication.

In this lesson, we will examine important quotes from ''Night'' by Elie Wiesel, and unearth some of the significant themes throughout this sobering tale.

Literary Analysis of Night

Certainly, you know of the Holocaust in Germany during WWII under the Nazi regime. The staggering statistics, historical accounts, and period documents do not give justice to the human experience of such madness. Night by Elie Wiesel chronicles the collective insanity that wrought religious intolerance and genocide through one man's narrative.

Throughout Night, Wiesel carefully chooses words, dialogue, and scene placement to create a hauntingly desolate and desperate tone, and to impart a visceral and resonating reaction to his memoir. Let's analyze some of the major themes as they arise in Wiesel's work.

Faith

In the opening of Night, Elie is a thirteen-year old Jewish boy living in a small town in Transylvania, who yearns for spiritual enlightenment. His faith is his life. Elie begs his father to find him a guide for Kabbalah studies, but is told that he is far too young. He finds a spiritual guide in Moishe the Beadle, a very gentle and poor man who lives in Elie's neighborhood. Elie writes,

'Thus began my initiation. Together we would read, over and over again, the same page of the Zohar. Not to learn it by heart but to discover within the very essence of divinity.'

This is a significant line. One can almost see the two innocent lives, man and boy, poring over a religious text, sure of their faith in God, without a second thought to their safety. Very soon after this scene, Nazis invade Elie's village, and in a progression of diminished civil rights and building cruelty, all Jewish citizens are transported to concentration camps.

Faith - Lost

Shortly after Elie and father end up in a concentration camp, he begins to question his faith in God. He witnesses unspeakable acts of evil perpetrated by fellow humans - both prisoners and SS soldiers alike. The violence Elie experiences symbolizes, for him, a sort of betrayal by his God toward humanity. The following lines speak poignantly of this loss of faith.

'For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank him for?'

'Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my drams into ashes.'

As the utter insanity of programmed hate and violence seeps into Elie and the other prisoners' souls, it is clear that all belief and hope is lost.

'I no longer accepted God's silence. As I swallowed my ration of soup, I turned that act into a symbol of rebellion, of protest against Him...Deep inside, I felt a great void opening.'

The Depravity of Humankind

In order to use his experience for a greater purpose and to allow the undeserved deaths of others to serve as a testament to the dangers of religious intolerance, Elie gives readers the chilling and nightmarish truths of the Holocaust.

'A truck drew close and unloaded its hold: small children. Babies! Yes, I did see this with my own eyes...children thrown into flames. (Is it any wonder that ever since then, sleep eludes me?)'

'Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.'

Fear, Cruelty, and Disavowal

One of the most striking and sobering themes in Night is the effect that fear and madness had on Holocaust victims. Wiesel shows readers that some of the most horrific acts of the Nazis involved the creation of a world where one had no choice but to disavow a parent, ignore brutality, and keep one's head down.

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