Night, by Elie Wiesel (LentBooks #7)

nightContinuing on with the Holocaust theme, Night is a classic I’ve never read, which is also on my students’ reading list.  It’s not an easy read by any means — it’s a very short, sparse, raw retelling of Elie Wiesel’s experience as a Jewish teenager who barely survived Auschwitz.  It’s compelling but also chilling.  One thing it conveys better than anything I’ve read is the dehumanization of those in the camps — how the suffering became so overwhelming that for many people, human feelings, even love for family members, was simply erased by the grim desire to survive.

The book ends abruptly, with the newly-released narrator contemplating the emptiness of his own soul after the horrors he has experienced, after the death of his faith in a loving God.  It’s a stark and brutal book, but it needs to be, as there’s nothing more stark and brutal than the reality it describes.

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2 Comments

Filed under LentBooks, Nonfiction -- memoir

2 responses to “Night, by Elie Wiesel (LentBooks #7)

  1. Mike talbert

    I have been looking for something on “Night” for a project of mine, and my copy of Wiesel’s memoir has been permanently borrowed.
    For a book that must be read, I have seen it treated as a barrier. One of the most outrageous things I have seen on-line is a teacher’s chapter-by-chapter outline of how “Night” will ber read and covered in class with stern promptings that I fear will keep it unread. It is a hard book for teenagers, just as the “Diary of Anne Frank” is roungh for 12-year-olds. The Shoah at its worse comes to the fore in the book. It is more horrid that any horror story, because it is real. No vampire can compete with what Transylvanian Wiesel faced. With him the Shoah ceases to be a set of 6 milllion mind-numbing statistics, the kind of thing that holocaust deniers can ignore, it is the tale of a father and his survivor son pushed to the point where the boy doesn’t even realize he has survived. And he leaves Buchenwald at an age when most American teenagers are trying to have a little fun in a society that is based of fine-tuning the defintion of fun. If readers allow themselves to be imprisoned by the book, and I can’t imagine a person of conscience doing otherwise, they will taste the night Wiesel lived. And yet one can see that even in the writing of the book Wiesel is recovering from that void where he found himself needing to redefine God. It is like a reading of Pslam 22 that opens “My God, My God why have you forsaken me,” only to know as the psalm itself testifies, that there is something beyond the darkness, above the evil.

  2. I was actually amazed by how avidly several of my students read it. They are a bit older than the average high school student with a bit more life experience (generally about 18-19) but in many ways, including reading, they are often quite immature, so I was intrigued by how interested they were in this book.

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