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Night Essay

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Wiesel’s Changes of Faith The Holocaust brought about many hardships and created severe adversity for its victims that may have created experiences ultimately too traumatic that transformed their lives for years to come, either through starvation and labor in the concentration camps or execution and incineration in the extermination camps. In the memoir Night by Elie Wiesel, Wiesel tells the story of himself as a young Jewish boy born in Romania, who in 1944, was forced into ghettos with the rest of the Jewish citizens and later deported, along with his father, to the Nazi’s largest killing center, Auschwitz-Birkenau. While living through this day-to-day horrifying basis, Elie begins to live with overwhelming fear and total alienation, as well as his increasing loss of faith on God and whether God is even existent or not for His lack of participation in trying to help the Jews. Although Elie manages to survive his long and frightening journey through both labor and death camps, his faith was never at the high-most air-reaching level as it dramatically changed throughout the course of the novel because of his disturbing experiences in witnessing cremated human beings, executions, and the going through the loss of his entire family. Prior to being deported to the camps, Elie’s faith was extremely high as he was well-established with his studies in mysticism and the cabbala and his great involvement with religion through prayers. Elie is finding a great interest in wanting to work with Moshe the Beadle to help increase his knowledge in his studies because “during the day I studied the Talmud, and at night I ran to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple. One day I asked my father to find me a master to guide me in my studies of the cabbala” (1). Wiesel applies diction such as “Talmud,” “synagogue,” “Temple,” and “cabbala” in trying to reveal to the reader that Elie was well in touch with his religion and communication with his God to illustrate that he in fact had over-reaching faith. In addition, strong imagery comes into play as well when Wiesel writes, “at night I ran to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple” revealing not only his religious participation with God, but his concern for anything that may occur around his religion that may potentially affect him in communicating with God. Suddenly, Moshe the Beadle returns after escaping from the Gestapo and tries to tell Elie that “I wanted to come back to Sighet to tell you the story of my death. So that you could prepare yourselves while there was still time. To live? I don’t attach any importance to my life any more. I’m alone. No, I wanted to come back, and to warn you. And see how it is, no one will listen to me…” (5). Wiesel reveals the attitude of the Jews before they realized what was really happening, including himself, by not listening to Moshe the Beadle. Elie’s faith on God was too high to believe that such a thing that Moshe the Beadle had discussed about what he had went through before escaping was true because with his faith, Wiesel realized that God would not let such a thing happen. Because of Wiesel’s over-reaching faith, including the Jewish community’s, they did not take the open opportunity to escape when they had the chance and in essence, for some, it led to their brutal deaths in the end. As a result, Wiesel was well-attached to his studies and God himself, developing his high faith, that he could not have held the ability to believe what Moshe the Beadle was talking about at the time.
Having been deported to a Nazi death camp, Wiesel begins to lose his faith dramatically as he becomes an agonized witness to the horrors of cremation and execution. After witnessing the innocent lives of the people being consumed by the crematorium, Wiesel had obtained that nocturnal silence depriving him from living, then “the night was gone. The morning star was shining in the sky. I too had become a completely different person. The student of Talmud, the child that I was, had been consumed in the flames. There remained only a shape that looked like me. A dark flame had entered my soul and devoured it” (34). Through the various diction used by Wiesel such as “different,” “consumed,” “flames,” “soul,” and “devoured,” the reader can understand more clearly that after Wiesel witnessed the incineration of the people in the crematorium, he no longer felt any reason at all to continue practicing his beliefs taught in the Talmud. In addition, he abandoned his previous state of a religion applied person to nothing more than a body filled with an empty soul. His traces of faith he once held in God began to diminish as the flames had consumed them. As the execution by hanging of a well-known boy under the name of Pipel took place, Elie could not do anything but watch as he heard a voice behind him asking, “Where is God now?” And Elie answers within himself, “Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows…That night the soup tasted of corpses” (62). Through the use of imagery, Wiesel writes “He is hanging here on this gallows…” revealing God’s death through Pipel because if an innocent boy like Pipel could be killed mercilessly, it makes Wiesel question whether God is even existent and saw as if God died up there with Pipel. Thus, his faith now begins to die as well as Wiesel continues to live through these events without God’s presence, as other Jews as well begin to question where He is. Conclusively, Wiesel’s faith dramatically dropped to almost non-existent as his horrors continued without God to come and save him.
As his journey almost reaches liberation, Wiesel’s experiences led him to become the traumatized witness to the death of his family, the death of his innocence, and the death of his God, which left his faith dead with the rest of his childhood. As his father passes away and leaves his side forever, Wiesel has trouble showing emotion toward his loss as “I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I had no more tears. And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, could I have searched it, I might perhaps have found something like—free at last!” (106). Elie provides diction such as “weakened,” “conscience,” and “free” to illustrate that by being so deprived, he has lost his sense of morality, and actually expresses cheer that he no longer has to provide rations and watch out for his father, which lets the reader know that by losing his faith, Wiesel also became a selfish human being caused by the traumatic events. This quote also helps the reader understand Wiesel’s point of view and how and why he obtained the feeling of being free at last, which leads to a better understanding of the effects of losing faith. Elie became infected with food poisoning three days after liberation from Buchenwald, and after recuperating, “I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me” (109). Through the use of symbolism, the corpse represents Elie’s loss of faith, loss of innocence, and loss of God during the Holocaust. Elie’s use of imagery with “the look in his eyes…has never left me” reveals that Wiesel may have put the suffering behind him, but he will never forget the feeling he had experienced and witnessed during the Holocaust. As a result, the Holocaust caused Elie’s loss of family, innocence, and God, which ultimately, lead to his dramatic death of his faith he had much of prior to the deportations. Elie’s faith had dramatically changed throughout the course of the novel because of his disturbing experiences in witnessing cremated human beings, executions, and goingthrough the loss of his entire family although Elie had managed to survive his journey through both labor and death camps. Compared to Elie’s traumatic experiences in the Holocaust, many other genocides have occurred throughout history that many believed would have been too much too believe, such as the Rwandan genocide and how many families there were killed and separated because of it, possibly leading to their loss of faith.

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