Irony in Night by Elie Wiesel: Examples & Analysis

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  • 0:00 Expectations vs. Reality
  • 0:40 Yellow Star
  • 0:58 Vacation
  • 1:26 Arrival at Auschwitz
  • 2:05 Evacuation of Buna
  • 3:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In 'Night' by Elie Wiesel, we see the miserable side of irony as Eliezer and his family continue to discover that reality is much, much worse than they ever imagined.

Expectations vs. Reality

Irony is frequently considered satirical comedy, but in the case of Night by Elie Wiesel, irony refers to the sad and horrifying departure between expectations and reality.

Night is a recounting by the author of his own experience of being sent to Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Throughout the story, the characters continue to be shocked by the terribleness of their situation and try to see hope in each change. Ultimately, the author's father, Mr. Wiesel, makes the wrong decision by not trusting the way out, and it costs him his life.

Yellow Star

When the decree is made that all Jews must wear yellow stars, Father's response is, 'The yellow star? So what? It's not lethal …' He would never have imagined that soon after, the star would begin to limit their freedom and eventually lead to the death of Mr. and Mrs. Wiesel, as well as their youngest child.

Vacation

When the decision is made to evacuate Eliezer's town, the people think that it is just a strategy to send them away so that the Nazis can rob them. Eliezer hears people in the town saying, 'They just want to steal our valuables and jewelry. They know it has all been buried and that they will have to dig to find it; so much easier to do when the owners are on vacation…' People actually believe they are being sent on vacation when the trains are boarded for Auschwitz, a complex of concentration camps.

Arrival at Auschwitz

When Eliezer's train arrived at Auschwitz, his family received wonderful news: 'We were to leave the train here. There was a labor camp on the site. The conditions were good. Families would not be separated. Only the young would work in the factories. The old and the sick would find work in the fields. Confidence soared. Suddenly we felt free of the previous nights' terror. We gave thanks to God.' They were so grateful to be at Auschwitz, but it ends up, the opposite was true. Conditions were terrible. His family members were separated and his mother and youngest sister were killed in the gas chambers, rooms used to kill prisoners with poisonous gas.

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