Study Questions for 'Night' by Elie Wiesel
Review Elie Wiesel's memoirs of life in a concentration camp.
Question: Explain the difference between Elie Wiesel the author and Eliezer the narrator.
Answer: It is important not to confuse the narrator with the author, even though they are the same person. Eliezer's experiences cause him to question his faith and the existence of a loving, merciful God. Eliezer's (the narrator's) account leaves the reader with a sense of hopelessness, that humanity is irredeemable, that God has abandoned his creation. Eliezer's assertions are not that of the author. Elie Wiesel, the older version of Eliezer, the death camp survivor, has dedicated his life to serving mankind and to prevent human rights atrocities, showing that something wonderful can result from incomprehensible suffering. For more on Wiesel's life after his liberation, check out his website.
Question: What is Wiesel's purpose in writing Night?
Answer: Wiesel warns of the dangers of silence in the face of hatred and oppression. He cautions the world to never forget the Holocaust in order to prevent it from happening again.
Question: What role does faith play in the novel?
Answer: When the novel begins, Eliezer has complete faith in a benevolent God, a God who is part of everything. He cannot reconcile his belief in an all powerful god with the atrocities he witnesses as a prisoner. Despite his acknowledged loss of faith, he is able to maintain shreds of it. He recognizes the need for faith as a means to survival, noting that those who lose their faith soon die.
Question: What significance do the novel's last lines have on its meaning?
Answer: The narrative's last lines leave the reader with a sense of hopelessness. Eliezer views himself as dead; innocence is dead; humanity is dead; God is dead.
Question: In chapter one, the town of Sighet remains in denial, despite an abundance of evidence indicating that they are in danger. Why does no one believe what is about to happen?
Answer: When foreign Jews are deported, the town insists all is well. When Moshe the Beadle returns and reports Nazi atrocities, the town insists all is well. When the Fascists take over in Hungary, the town insists all is well. When the SS begin patrolling the streets, the town insists all is well. When Eliezer suggests they move to Palestine, his father refuses. When Martha the former servant offers them refuge, even after most of the town had been expelled, they remain. Those in Sighet cannot comprehend that other human beings can be so evil.
Question: Why does Wiesel use figurative language to such a large extent?
Answer: Wiesel attempts to describe the indescribable. He is forced to recount horrible events. He, therefore, incorporates figurative language to give readers a sense of the evil he faces, without necessarily having to provide every exact detail.