Night by Elie Wiesel Book Review
In the oxford dictionary, a symbol is defined as a; “A mark or character used as a conventional representation of an object, function, process or idea.”. To put it simpler, a symbol is a topic or an idea that has significant meaning beyonds its surface. Symbols are used everywhere in literature to help the reader understand topics that don’t always seem obvious. In the book Night by Elie Wiesel, he uses several symbols to portray his journey and pain throughout the holocaust. One big symbol that reoccurs throughout the book is God and Elie's relationship. His experiences have more meaning because of this complexity while also giving us a new light on certain characters and themes which creates depth to certain scenes and subjects.
In the beginning of the book, Elie was very faithful to god and really wanted to devote himself to him but after his mother and sisters were taken away from him, we get to see the first conflict that Elie has with god. While walking with the rest of the harbored jews, they began to pray and Elie was not too pleased about it. He says: “For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for?” we begin to see this internal furry that Elie has for god and start to see how god is being tied with the concentration camp, events that happen thereafter, and its effect on Elie.
Through the struggles of the concentration camps, everyday seemed to be like waking up in a living hell for Elie. On one of these days, the guards had performed an execution in front of the captured jews. The execution was of a young boy who was a pipel to a previously convicted man. When the boy was hanged, he died a very slow painful death with everyone watching this horrific sight. While Elie watched he overheard something from one of the men standing next to him: “Behind me, I heard the same man asking: "For God's sake, where is God?" And from within me, I heard a voice answer: "Where He is? This is where—hanging here from this gallows… " That night, the soup tasted of corpses.” This quote really establishes his feelings and overall relationship with God and how he doesn't really seem to think that God cares about what is happening. He thinks that really no matter how much you pray and call out his name, he will never answer. Because of this event, it makes him think about what really is happening to them because for a time it seemed like he was becoming numb to the tourture he was enduring. He also starts to see God as a root of all these problems and the cause of his suffering.
His feelings with God is something quite complex and intricate but God is not the only relationship that Elie has that has this uniqueness. His feelings towards his father reflects how he feels and sees God. Throughout the book, Elie felt God was more of a burden than a blessing which is cast back unto him and his father's relationship. A great example of this burden was when Elie goes out to be with his sick father. He says; “I went to look for him. Yet at the same time a thought crept into my mind: If only I didn't find him! If only I were relieved of this responsibility, I could use all my strength to fight for my own survival, to take care only of myself…Instantly, I felt ashamed, ashamed of myself forever.” This is when the connection between these two relationships starts to become stronger and more apparent. Elie through the book seems to blame God for all his problems but still keeps him in mind. He is doing the same exact thing with his father. Even though he thinks he is a burden and really a risk to himself, he is too attached to him to let him go which displays a complex relationship between them that is very similar to elie’s relationship with God.
The book Night is very graphic piece of liturtre that brings the horrors of the holocaust to life. From Auschwitz to Buchenwald it really seemed to be nothing but a living hell. Even though the book heavily emphasizes these graphic events, it also shows how events can distort our view on certain aspects of life. The book represents this distortion through the symbolism of God and its effect on elie’s experiences while complicating them so the reader can interpret it themselves to give it their own meaning.