Metaphors in Night by Elie Wiesel

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  • 0:01 A New World
  • 0:35 A Graveyard
  • 1:27 Night
  • 2:44 Hell
  • 3:57 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.

'Night' by Elie Wiesel is the author's true story of survival from the unimaginable atrocities he and his family endured in the Holocaust. In this lesson, we will learn more about the metaphors that are used to tell this incredible story

A New World

In the midst of World War II, Elie's town is invaded by German soldiers. Soon, the Germans force all of the town's Jews to evacuate. After being thrown onto a freight train to Auschwitz, Elie experiences a whole new world that is best described as a nightmare or hell. Let's take a look at how the author uses these and other metaphors to tell about his experience. A metaphor is a comparison of two things that are not similar, done in order to make a point.

A Graveyard

Can you imagine being forced out of your home and told to leave almost everything behind? What would you take if you could only fill up a backpack? That's what Elie's family and neighbors had to do. And as they boarded the train for an unknown destination, their homes were left wide open and their possessions up for grabs. 'Gaping doors and windows looked out into the void. It all belonged to everyone since it no longer belonged to anyone. It was there for the taking. An open tomb.' The author compares the violation and abandonment of their homes and lives to a grave site. The town is left dead and only discarded artifacts remain. No longer a wide-open place filled with possibilities, Elie's 'world had become a hermetically sealed cattle car.'


Elie frequently compares his experience of pain, loss, and hopelessness to night. It begins on the terrible train ride to the concentration camp Auschwitz: 'The night seemed endless.' Once they arrived, many celebrated and thanked God, but they soon heard the shocking reality of what was in store for them: the flames of the crematorium.

'We stood stunned, petrified. Could this be just a nightmare? An unimaginable nightmare?' Elie expects to wake from this terrible dream any moment, but it continues to get worse as they witness babies being thrown into a fire and are told that they are going to be thrown in, too.

'I pinched myself: Was I still alive? Was I awake? How was it possible that men, women, and children were being burned and that the world kept silent? No. All this could not be real. A nightmare perhaps. . .'

Despite the threats and horrors, Elie survives the night at camp. But even though he survives, the psychological effects endure. 'Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.'

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