In Elie Wiesel’s book “Night,” the Jewish prisoners are in constant fear of tomorrow; they fear the furnace, Dr. Mengele and the terrible brutalization of their inmates. The Jewish prisoners gather together and talk to another to preserve the last remnants of their nearly extinct social interaction. This concept of night is describing the dark and evil times where people commit heinous acts of brutalization. To the protagonist, Elie, the night is an infinite sequence of constant fear.
When the protagonist is finally released from the concentration camp, it is not very clear if the night has given way to light – this symbolizes hope and the restoration of prosperity. Elie struggles to find the light in order to return to a peaceful life. The interpretation of Elie’s experience with night can be both interpreted literally and figuratively in the book. When the first “night” came for Elie, the sun sets which symbolizes the arrival of darkness and suffering. When this occured, the Jewish families are being held in the Gestapo.
Elie sees the brutal acts committed by the Nazis throughout the nights in concentration camps, the gestapo and the train ride. A psychological illusion is on him as these images starts to disillusion his vision – the nights seems longer and the days shorter. The protagonist’s awareness of time is lost. “When had we left our houses? The ghetto? The train? Was it only a week? One night? One single night?” (34). The night shows how common things such as the night can take from people and cause fear.
This infectious atmosphere drains everyone’s hope to live as they spectated the terrible brutalization of strangers, friends and family members. The night passes slowly and slowly corrodes his life, filling it with despair and hopelessness. “In this place, it is every man for himself, and you cannot think for the others. Not even your father. In this place, there is no such thing such as father, or friend. Each of us lives and dies alone.” (110). From many quotations in the novel, it is clear that people have already given up on their future. These long, tortuous nights has consumed everyone and overwhelmed them; this feeling of despair and somberness is commonly accepted by most people in the concentration camps. No matter how violent, cruel or immoral, these treacherous acts of the Nazi’s shall never be forgotten – even if this feeling consumes everyone. Elie says that he would never forget any events he witnessed at the camp. “Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God himself.” (32)
When this feeling of despair occurs, most people usually turn to suicide or to accept death. In this book, Night symbolizes fear, evil and darkness. This novel brings a form of symbolism to the night that gives a diverse amount of emotions to the protagonist. Elie must endure the never-ending nights to live – he also must experience the aftershock of the trauma after he escapes. This book is a rich, profound piece of literature that brings a different message towards people with different education, families or cultural backgrounds. To me, this book says: Life might sometimes be hard for you, yet when you glimpse upon the horror felt by the Jewish people – life for you, is going well, compared to the tragedy. What might the message be for you?