The Analysis of Night by Elie Wiesel
From the mirror the man peers at an empty corpse. The skeleton staring back is nothing but a shell of what was once a student, a child of God, a son. In the novel, Night, Elie Wiesel illustrates through the use of imagery how the victims of the holocaust lost their sense of human identity, in result of humanity’s capability of becoming savage and animalistic. Wiesel’s use of vivid imagery allows readers to witness the deterioration of the victims’ faith. The pursuit of a higher meaning and purpose is one thing that separates humanity from animals.
Without faith in a higher purpose mankind feels lost and is left to run through the monotonous motions of life. Life without faith is not truly living. Wiesel describes Moishe the Beadle as “wide and dreamy eyed” prior to witnessing the horrors of the Red Army soldiers who take him (3). After he bears witness to children being used as targets for merciless machine gunners, to piles of the dead thrown into the trenches they dug prior, and to the slaughtering of Jews with many left to die slowly he is changed. His eyes are no longer depicted as wide and dreamy, now they are described as closed and cast down (Wiesel 7).
His eyes are symbolic of his transformation from a man with an open heart and mind to an empty cast, without hope or faith. The experience makes Moishe evolve from not only a devoutly faithful man but a, shtibul, to a man with no desire to live (Wiesel7). He witnessed how savagery of the soldiers and it strips him from his devotion for God, his love for the world, and his very being. Succeeding Elie’s many life changing experiences in the Red Army camps, they are forced to give witness to the execution of a small boy which was one of the last who remained faithful. Wiesel uses imagery to depict the young pipel as a “pale,””sad-eyed angel” (64). Not only does his young appearance suggest innocence, but also his light-colored complexion is symbolic of the boy’s purity.
Also by Wiesel inculcating his angelic image into the minds of readers he is strongly suggesting that the boy represents the faith and religion of the victims. The boy was died slowly and painfully as did the faith from the hearts of all of the prisoners. The brutality of the executioner was the shattering blow that killed their faith in God and altered their very being. Through imagery, Wiesel illustrates the victims’ of the holocaust lost their identity as humans in their physical appearance. As Wiesel and the others arrived in the camp they were commanded to strip of all their clothes (35). The differences in attire that separated some from the rest were no longer in existence, they were all left standing [naked, and cold] (Wiesel 35).
All differences were left aside and they were all completely identical in attire. Their loss of individuality causes them to lose their identity, they are now completely equal. The way Wiesel describes the experience of being naked as cold signifies the Kappos’ absence of compassion and barrenness to the outside world they were all now subjected to. The inconsideration of the leaders cause them to immediately lose all attachments they had to the outside world, leaving them with no remnants of humans they were previously. In addition to striping all of their possessions they also savagely “tore out …every hair on their bodies” (Wiesel 35).
With no clothes nor hair they no longer had any distinguishable features. The people who were previously town leaders, fathers, doctors, business owners, or students now were identical pale figures. By being unidentifiable the camp leaders degraded the victims beyond animals. Animals even have unique patterns and colors, allowing them to determine one from the other; however, the kappos did not give the men, women, and children were not given even the dignity of even that. The dehumanization of the people was a direct result of the kappos’ inhumanity. All the men had left of their previous life was their name, which was also stolen away from them.
“Veteran prisoners [with needles] tattooed numbers on [their] left arms. [He] became A-7713. From then on, he had no other name. (Wiesel 42).” Once each person was given a number and tattooed, whoever they were before ceased to exist.
They lost all them of their physical identity and herded like animals. The savagery of the men allowed them to destroy who they used to be and treat them as nothing more than numbers. The imagery Wiesel creates throughout the novel expresses to readers the loss of morality in the victims that is expected in all humans. Morals prevent mankind from being uncivil and savage. They provide humanity with rules of conduct that help guide our actions.
After one of the many hangings, “the entire camp… filed past the hanged boy and stared at his extinguished eyes, [and] tongue hanging from his gaping mouth. (Wiesel 62-63)” Although any sane person would be sick to their stomach by the brutality and injustice of the camp supervisors, the prisoners were rather hungry than sick. Juliek complains to Wiesel asking when the ceremony would be over because he is hungry (Wiesel 62). Their hungry and starvation overpowered any emotions and sympathy they had for the boy. They are so unwavered by the execution that the soup is described as tasting “better than ever (Wiesel 63).
” The description of the soup emphasizes their desensitization to the hanging and their lack of human emotions. The image Wiesel creates shows the lack of any morality in the victims due to the repetitive horrors they witnessed on a daily basis. As time passes, Wiesel’s lasting sense of humanity is his need to protect and care for his father. However, the sympathy for his father is replaced with regret when his father becomes more and more “childlike… weak… and vulnerable (Wiesel 105).” His father continuously groans his name and Wiesel refuses to satisfy his cries and as the officer savagely bashes in his father’s head he is thankful that his father finally ceased to call his name (Wiesel 111).
When his father dies it is clear Wiesel had become more concerned for himself rather than his father showing that he has lost his morality to protect those he loves. The brutality of the officers caused Wiesel to fear to the extent that he no longer cared about his father so long as Wiesel, himself, was at no risk of getting in trouble. The merciless officers caused Wiesel to lose the last sense of humanity he had left, his morality to care for his father. In summation, Wiesel’s use of imagery in the novel, Night, communicates that humanity’s capability of savagery and brutality has the ability to remove one’s human identity. Subsequent to his liberation, Wiesel lifts himself from the hospital bed. He stares at his reflection in the mirror, the first time he has seen himself since he was a sixteen year old boy living in Sighet.
Looking back is an empty corpse, a shell of the person he used to be (Wiesel 115). Works Cited Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print.