Night By Elie Wiezel …and Tim Gibson
Pages Index Just click on the Swastika at any time to return to this page Plot (chapter by chapter) Setting Characters Key Themes What I learnt Key Quotes Bibliography
Plot Chapter 1Chapter 5 Chapter 2Chapter 6 Chapter 3Chapter 7 Chapter 4Chapter 8 Chapter 9
Setting Night is set in 1941, when Nazi Germany is fighting Poland. Elie Wiesel is born in Sighet, Transylvania and is twelve years old when the first real information about the Nazis comes out. Moshe the Beadle, a worker at the local synagogue, is deported to a Polish camp in 1942. Within that camp he sees evidence of what the Nazis do and how violent and unforgiving they are. When he escapes and returns to Sighet, no one believes him. By 1944 it was too late, and the Germans had already invaded Sighet and setup ghettos for the Jews. They soon started reporting them out to Auschwitz. The Jews are transported in cattle carts, which are crowded so much that people have to take turns sitting down. There was a lady called Madame Schachter who kept raving on about visions she had of fire and a furnace. As the train entered Auschwitz, the fires could be seen, along with the furnace, and everyone suddenly realised what she could see was actually real. At Birkenau, which is the entry point for Auschwitz, Elie and his father, Shlomo, are seperated from their mother and daughters. Elie and Shlomo realise that if they want to stay together, they need to lie about their age. They do this and are put in the same block. Elie receives a number, A-7713. This was his virtually his new name. They are then moved to their new camp, Buna. At Buna, Elie is made to work in an electrical warehouse, where he counts electrical fittings. Both Elie and his father receive severe bashings from the Capo, who is known for being very violent at times. Elie and his father manage to avoid selection for the furnace. People who are deemed by the doctor to be unfit or not able to work have their numbers written down and they are moved away to be burnt to death. During this time, Elie develops a foot infection. The Russian armies are slowly advancing on Auschwitz/Birkenau and the other camps such as Buna, so the Nazis relocate the camps further away. Elie and his father are made to trek through the winter along with all the other prisoners. The prisoners, including Elie and Shlomo, are transported in cattle cars to their new camp, Buchenwald. Only twelve people out of their carriage survived the journey. In their new camp, Elie’s dad becomes very ill. Shlomo eventually dies. Elie does not feel much guilt or despair, as he sees it as a burden has been lifted off his shoulders. In 1945 on April 11, American tanks enter Buchenwald, liberating the prisoners.
Characters Elie Shlomo (Elie’s father) Moshe the Beadle Madame Schachter Idek the Capo Zalman Meir Katz Rabbi Eliahou
Key Themes Death The whole story of Night basically revolves around death. The main objective of the Nazi’s was to kill as many Jews as possible. Wherever they could justify it, they’d kill people; fire pits, walking too slow, too old or young, women, etc. Faith Faith was a big part of surviving the Nazi holocaust. If you didn’t have faith in a god or anyone then you had no chance. You needed to be able to always know that something would still be there you could believe in and know you could rely on. Hatred There was no such thing as ‘no-hatred’ in the camps, from both points of views. The Germans, more Hitler, hated the Jews so much he would make them suffer as much as he could. There as obviously hate towards the Germans from the Jews. They had come from no where and turned their whole life upside down. The Jews couldn’t even do anything to revolt or they would lose their life. Survival Night is a great book for an example of survival. Take Elie for example, he survived the whole ordeal even after everything that had happened. He had been starved to the point of death, beaten, exhausted, humiliated and tortured. The last sentence of Night, for me, is one of the most powerful sentences in the whole book. “When I looked in the mirror, I saw a corpse looking back.” Elie had been through so much in the camp but he was a survivor, he didn’t want the Germans to take his life and he proved in the end that he could survive no matter what.
What I learnt To put it simply, I learnt a heck of a lot about the Nazi Holocaust and what happened in that era of time. I knew about the ghettos, the detention camps and the Jews/Nazi hate, but I never knew the finer details of it all. Reading the story by someone who was actually in Auschwitz and suffered so much and yet still being able to write about it all is amazing. I read on a website about Elie Wiesel and he said that he only wrote the book for historical purposes. He added that he a hard time trying to write the book especially when it came to the parts such as walking towards the fire pits and the ordeal with his father. I never knew that there was more than one camp, how they were so organised with the different work camps and individual numbers, how much torture went on and how the Nazis made the Jews starve to the edge of death, and many times, to death. I am so glad I was made to read this book and do this assignment as it has informed me so much about the Nazi holocaust. I’ve found so many interesting facts and figures that I never knew about until I started this assignment. I would definitely recommend this book!
Key Quotes “Men to the left! Women to the right!” Chapter 3, pg. 27 This quote is the first example of how brutal the Nazis were. This was the first opportunity for them to show that they really meant business. The women were taken to the furnaces and fire pits and killed. “Where is He? Here He is-He is hanging here on this gallows....” Chapter 4, pg. 62 This is Elie referring to their god. He means that if god is supposedly so great, then where is he to stop everything. He asks where god is, and says he is here in the gallows, and that he has suffered the same fate as all the other prisoners. “We were all going to die here. All limits had been passed. No one had any strength left. And again the night would be long.” Chapter 7, pg. 98 This quote is from when Elie is walking with his father and the other prisoners to the next camp as the Nazis wanted to avoid them being liberated. Everyone was out of strength and everyone was about to die from the cold winter night and from the exhaustion. “After my father's death, nothing could touch me any more.” Chapter 9, pg. 107 Elie said this just after his dad had died. It’s a very touching piece of text, especially when you think about how much they went though and how they were always able to come out on top and still be together after. This piece of text is saying that his father dying is the hardest thing every, and now that he had experienced that, nothing could be worse.
Chapter 1 Chapter one of Night opens up with a description of Moche the Beadle who is Elie Wiezel's home town of Sighet, Transylvania. Moche works in the Hasidic Synagogue and is looked up to and respected by many. When Elie is twelve years old, he tells his father he wishes to study the Cabbala, a form of Jewish “bible”, but his father tells him he is too young and doesn’t wish him to learn it. Elie goes against his fathers wishes and talks to Moche about it. Elie’s father is highly respected in the Sighet Jewish community. Elie also has two older sisters, named Hilda and Bea, and a younger sister called Tzipora. He also has a mother but her name is unknown. During their time in Sighet, Moche the Beadle is transported out of Sighet with other non-Hungarian Jews. The other Jews quickly forget about it as the assume it is just a wartime practice. Moche returns after escaping from his concentration camp in Poland and warns everyone of what he had seen. No one believes him and thinks he has just gone crazy. In 1944, when people are still optimistic after the Germans were defeated in the war, German soldiers enter Sighet. The Jews were forced into their homes for three days, and then into two ghettos. One night Elie’s father attends a meeting informing him that he and all the other Jews are going to be deported. The location; unknown. The Jews are forced into cattle trucks on the the train line. The tiny cattle carts which the Jews were crammed into The Sighet ghetto
Chapter 2 The cattle cars are overcrowded. So much so that the people have to take turns sitting down. They travel for two days, with their whereabouts or destination still unknown to them. The young people on the train openly have sex with the other people pretending not to notice. The train stops at Kaschau, on the Czechoslovak border. At this point the Jews are aware that they are not going to be staying in Hungary like they were promised. A German soldier opens up Elie’s carriage, explaining to them that they are now under control of the German Army. He took all their possessions and valuables and threatened to shoot all of the people if just one person escaped. There is a lady on the train called Madame Schachter. She slowly loses it and starts screaming about a flaming furnace she can see. The people on the train start beating her and gagging her to try and make her stop. Other people on the train are disturbed by her visions. During the night she breaks loose and starts screaming again. At this time most of the people are tired and going mad themselves from the conditions and don’t try to restrain her. As the trains near Auschwitz, they are told that the conditions here are good. Everyone’s mood lifts until they can see the flames and the chimney that Madame Schaechter had illusions of. At this time, Madame Schaechter stops screaming. Everyone is forced out of the cattle trailer and to greet them; the smell of burning flesh. This was Birkenau, the entry point for Auschwitz.
Chapter 3 The Jews were sorted into female and male at Birkenau. Elie was told to say that he was eighteen, and his father was told to say he was forty. A selection is carried out by Dr Mengele, who selects who will live and who will go to the crematories immediately. Elie tells Dr Mengele that he is eighteen and a farmer. The doctor places Elie and his father into the same group, who are told they are the group that are destined for the crematories. The group is instructed to walk towards the fiery pits. As they near, they see a truck full of young children’s bodies being emptied into the pits. The group marched closer and closer towards the pits but at the last minute, they were redirected away. Elie tells how he will never forget that moment he was turned away nor the sight he saw of all the children’s faces in the pits burning away. The group are then made to march to Auschwitz. They then undress, run, shower and then redress. Burning bodies in the fire pits
Chapter 4 At Auschwitz Elie was told and realised that the conditions were a lot better. Their first meal was thick soup, but he refused to eat it. However, he is more happy to see people sitting around in the sun talking to each other. For a few weeks, the schedule is very simple; strict meal times and types, roll call times and bed times. Elie and his father bump into an old friend in the camp. His name is Stein of Antwerp, and is asking about his family. Elie and his father lie to him, telling him that his family are fine and that his father is keeping his head up. The prisoners are soon transferred to a new camp called Buna, which is an electrical warehouse camp. Entry gates to Auschwitz
Chapter 5 At Buna, Elie is placed in a building warehouse with musicians, but without his father. All he has to do here is count electrical light bulbs and fittings. The only problem with this place is that the Kapo (Idek, who is the head of the block) is very violent and has violent mood swings. He meets a violin player, Juliek, and also becomes friends with two Czech males, Yossi and Tibi. They all hum music together whilst they work throughout the day. One day, Elie is delighted to find out that the foreman, Franek, gets Elie’s father placed in the same group as him. One day Elie is taken to the dentist to have his gold filling removed. However, Elie lies and says he is sick to buy more time. One day, Idek has a violent mood swings and starts violently bashing Elie. He continues until Elie agrees to give up his gold filling. A young Jewish girl comes up to him and comforts him in German. A few years later, Elie meets this girl accidentally in Paris, France. One day, Elie walks in on Idek having sex with a young Polish girl. When Elie laughs out loud at him, Idek looses his cool and publicly lashes him twenty five times. When Elie can no longer hold himself up, Idek threatens him with his life if he tells anyone about what he saw. One afternoon the air raid sirens sound. All the prisoners are forced back into their blocks and orders are given to shoot anyone outside. The prisoners all develop some hope again that Buna will be bombed, or that the Nazi’s will soon be defeated.
Chapter 6 Elie and the rest of his block are made to run by the SS officers. The run throughout the night and are told that if they stop running or fall behind, the will be shot. Elie slows down when he sees another man named Zalman slow from stomach cramps. He stops to go to the toilet but he gets trampled in the process. Elie wants to help him but he knows if he stops, he will either be trodden to death as well or be shot. He continues on as he also knows his father needs him to survive. The SS Officers announce they had already ran forty two miles but they continue to run regardless. When the are allowed to stop, Elie and his father find shelter in a nearby shed. Elie starts to fall asleep but his father stops him so he does not die in his sleep from hypothermia. Rabbi Eliahou, a well respected man and known by all, comes into the shed looking for his son. Elie says that he had not seen his son but then remembers later on that he had. He had seen the boy running with his dad until his dad started to fall behind. He remembered seeing the boy’s dad fall further and further behind, whilst the son kept running to survive. Elie made a promise to himself that if his dad and he were in the same situation, he would do the same. The group are made to get up and start walking again. Elie’s foot is completely numb and he starts to imagine his life with only one leg. The group finally arrives at Gleiwitz; another camp. They are crowded into the barracks on top of each other. Elie finds it very hard to breath in the crowded space. Another man falls on top of him and Elie has to violently fight through to get air. He shouts out to his dad who is still alive. He also realises Juliek, who he met in the Buna camp, was there. Juliek clambered to the top of the pile of people and started playing Beethoven on his violin. Elie fell asleep to the music, but in the morning he awoke to find Juliek dead and his violin crushed. The group stay at Gleiwitz for three days without food or water. On the fourth day, they are loaded onto the train cattle carts again, with one hundred people per cart. The prisoners were so hungry and thirsty that they used spoons to scrape the ice off of other’s backs, as they were not allowed to bend over. The SS officers watched in amazement and laughed.
Chapter 7 The rail carts were crowded with bodies; alive and dead, it was hard to tell. Elie continuously tried to get a response from his dad but he couldn’t. The train made a stop and the cart doors opened. The SS officers ordered the dead bodies to be thrown out of the train. Two of the men went to throw Elie’s dad’s body out of the cart but Elie grabbed him and stopped them. He viciously slapped and yelled at his father to wake him. He had saved his father once more from death. The prisoners traveled for ten days, only eating snow. At one point when the train stops, German workers throw bread into the carriage. They watch the prisoners fight like animals just to get some bread. Elie saw one son kill his own father just for the bread, but was then killed himself for the bread. There he saw father and son, dead, none of them better off. On the third night of the ten day journey, Elie wakes to another prisoner trying to strangle him. Just before his last breathe is taken, Elie yells out to his father for help. There was no reply. Elie felt death upon himself. At the last moment the strangling stopped and he saw a man tackling the strangler off him. The man who saved his life was Meir Katz, who had worked in the gardening section at Birkenau, and therefore was a lot more healthier and stronger that the other prisoners. On the fifth day of their death camp journey, Meir Katz breaks down in tears with no longer a will to live. On the last day of their journey, the temperature drops. They all stand up and huddle together to keep warm and escape death. Finally, they reach their new camp, Buchenwald. Only twelve of the original one hundred prisoners get off the train. The other eighty eight stay on the cart to die.
Chapter 8 When they enter Buchenwald, their numbers are all recorded and they all have showers, as usual. It was very hard for the guards to get the prisoners to move as they were all so hungry and malnourished from the train ride and previous camps. Elie’s father takes him over to a pile of snow where he tells Elie that he no longer can go on. Elie gets frustrated with his father and starts arguing with him about how he is going to just give up especially after everything they had already been through. The bed time sirens sound and everyone moves into the bunkers, totally ignoring the pots of soup on offer. In the morning when Elie wakes up, he remembers about his father. He clambers out of bed to go to find him. He finds him in the coffee line, feverish and close to collapsing. He takes his father back to his bunk. The next time he sees him he is in his bunk and in worse condition. He tells Elie that the other people in the bunk house had been stealing his bread and hitting him. He offers the people extra soup and bread in return to stop hitting his father, but they just laugh at him. At night his father called out to him for more water. The SS guards hit him and yelled at him to be quiet. The next morning, he had been replaced by someone else and taken to the crematories. Elie did not feel any guilt, infact he felt freedom more than anything. The entry to Buchenwald
Chapter 9 On April 5, the head SS guard was late to roll call and everyone suddenly knew something was wrong. There was an announcement for all the Jews to meet at the assembly area, but the adults told the children to stay in their bunks. The next day, the head of Buchenwald announced that the camp would be shut down and that ten blocks would be deported per day. On the April 10, there were still 20,000 prisoners in the camp and it was scheduled to be blown up. However, the air raid alert was started so this was postponed to the next day. The next morning, there is a fight between the SS and the resistance. The SS end up fleeing and the resistance take control of the camp. At six o’clock that evening, the first American tank arrived at Buchenwald. The first thing that the prisoners though of was food. Then came the thoughts of clothing and sex. Elie came down with food poisoning three days after the liberation. After two weeks in hospital, he gathered enough strength to be able to look at himself in the mirror. When he saw himself in the mirror, he saw a corpse. That image has never left him, and never will. The disturbing and gruesome sight that greeted the resistance
Elie Wiesel Eliezer Wiesel was born on September 30 1928. Fifteen years later, his home town of Sighet was taken control of by Hungary, controlled by the Nazis. He is taken to the concentration camps along with his father, mother, and three sisters. Elie is the main character in Night, and is also the narrator. Elie’s mother and three sisters are seperated from his father and him and Auschwitz, and were presumed to be burned. Elie and his father support each other throughout their time in the camps and traveling from each one. Elie’s father dies before the camp is liberated
Shlomo (Elie’s father) Shlomo, Elie’s father, was a Jewish store owner in Sighet. He was also highly respected as a Jewish Community leader in Sighet. Shlomo had a strong bond with his son, Elie, as they went through an unforgettable experience at the death camps. Shlomo eventually died from malnutrition, hunger, and being beaten by the other prisoners in his bunk block. Shlomo Wiesel
Moshe the Beadle Moshe the Beadle worked in a Jewish synagogue in Sighet, Elie’s home town. In 1942, Moshe was deported to a Polish camp where he witnessed the killing of Jews. He escaped the camp and returned to Sighet, but no one believed him when he told them. Elie talks to Moshe the Beadle about being taught the Cabbala, which his father refused to teach to him as he believed he was too young. Moshe always told Elie to believe in god and use him for guidance.
Madame Schachter Madame Schachter was in the same cattle cart as Elie and his father when they were being taken from the Ghetto to Birkenau. She was about fifty years old and had a child accompanying her. During the train ride to Auschwitz/Birkenau, Madame Schachter had violent outbreaks about visions she had. She constantly started screaming about flames and a furnace she could see. People on the train thought she was crazy and kept hitting her to shut her up. When the train arrived at Auschwitz/Birkenau, the people could see she was actually right.
Idek the Capo Idek the Capo is the head of the unit where Elie works at Buna. He is known for having fits of rage and violent mood swings At one point during the novel, Idek starts beating up Elie until Elie says he’ll give him his gold tooth filling Elie accidentally walks in on Idek with a girl having sex. Idek publicly gives Elie twenty five lashings and threatens him if he tells anyone about what he saw
Zalman Zalman is the boy who he worked next to at Buna. When they are walking from camp to camp, Zalman falls behind. Elie looks for him but realises he got stamped to death.
Meir Katz Meir Katz was around every now and then in Night. He was one of the strongest and most healthy people in the camp. He was a very close from of Shlomo Wiesel and helped Elie and Shlomo a few times. Meir helps Elie to stop the person choking him in the train on the was to Buchenwald. As the train nears Buchenwald, Meir tells Shlomo that he can not go on. Meir dies on the train as it arrives at Buchenwald
Rabbi Eliahou Rabbi Eliahou is known by many in the camps and respected and almost liked by the Capos. Everyone has time for Rabbi Eliahou and he has time for everyone, making him very popular. We meet Rabbi in Night when he comes into the hut that Elie and his father are sheltering in during their walk from camps. He says he can’t find his son and asks Elie if he had seen him. Elie lies, saying he saw him alive and well, even though he can remember seeing him fall behind the group.
Bibliography Bellmore Merrick (1998), “Night Study Guide”, available on the internet; http://www.bellmore-merrick.k12.ny.us/night.html (visited March/May 2007) Grade Saver (2007), “GradeSaver: ClassicNote: Night Study Guide”, available on the internet; http://www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/titles/night(visited March/May 2007) Wikipedia (2007), “Elie Wiesel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”, available on the internet; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elie_Wiesel (visited March/May 2007) Wiesel, Elie; Night, Published in Argentina, 1960 by FSG books