by Lynsi
Last updated 6 years ago

Language Arts

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First and foremost, it is important to differentiate between the author of Night, Elie Wiesel, and its narrator and protagonist, Eliezer. That a distinction can be made does not mean that Night is a work of fiction. Indeed, except for minor details, what happens to Eliezer is exactly what happened to Wiesel during the Holocaust.

by Elie Wiesel


Eliezer is more than just a traditional protagonist; his direct experience is the entire substance of Night. He tells his story in a highly subjective, first-person, autobiographical voice, and, as a result, we get an intimate, personal account of the Holocaust through direct descriptive language. Whereas many books about the Holocaust use a generalized historical or epic perspective to paint a broad picture of the period, Eliezer’s account is limited in scope but gives a personal perspective through which the reader receives a harrowingly intimate description of life under the Nazis.

Night is narrated by Eliezer, a Jewish teenager who, when the memoir begins, lives in his home town of Sighet, in Hungarian Transylvania. Eliezer studies the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) and the Cabbala (a doctrine of Jewish mysticism). His instruction is cut short, however, when his teacher, Moshe the Beadle, is deported. In a few months, Moshe returns, telling a horrifying tale: the Gestapo (the German secret police force) took charge of his train, led everyone into the woods, and systematically butchered them. Nobody believes Moshe, who is taken for a lunatic.

But Wiesel alters minor details (for example, Wiesel wounded his knee in the concentration camps, while Eliezer wounds his foot) in order to place some distance, however small, between himself and his protagonist. It is extremely painful for a survivor to remember and write about his or her Holocaust experience; creating a narrator allows Wiesel to distance himself somewhat from the trauma and suffering about which he writes.



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