Last Updated 04 Jan 2023

The Journey of Eliezer in the Novel Night by Elie Wiesel

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During World War 2, Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, took many of the Jewish people as prisoners of war, and blamed them for the problems that Germany was facing at the time. They placed them in concentration camps, which were horrific places of death that killed millions of Jews each day. In the novel Night, by Elie Wiesel, the narrator, Eliezer, is a young Jewish boy of strong faith who, while living in a concentration camp, slowly loses sight of his god. The journey Eliezer faces as he recollects his personal history is astounding, as he slowly surrendered his most treasured item his faith. In the first part of the novel, at the age of 12 Eliezer is completely dedicated to his religion, and makes studying Jewish law and legend his first priority. He even feels the need to go behind his father‘s back to study the cabbala with Moshe the Beadle, although his father said he should only venture that far into his religion at the age of 30‘.

He has always believed in his god without question, and he has never done so much as challenged his faith. He studies day and night, and only thinks of expanding his knowledge, Eliezer had never once questioned his faith in his life. He would weep as he prayed, and when asked directly why he did such, he did not know the answer but rather thought it was a normal thing to be doing. He just accepted his god as the one who would love everlastingly and never cease. This all changed for him once he entered the concentration camps, After some drastic changes take place in the Sighet, such that the foreign Jews are expelled from the neighborhood and German soldiers are taking over the community, Eliezer still keeps complete faith. However, Eliezer begins to hint at the destruction of his religion when the most religious of items that were used in his household each day are strewn about on his lawn after the Jews are forced to form ghettos.

The synagogue is also in bad shape, and Eliezer plays with the idea of religion being torn down and tossed to the ground (13). Upon entering the camp, Eliezer receives a piece of advice from fellow Jews reminding the young boy of the teachings of the sages, and to never lose faith. At this moment the young boy does not realize that this could occur, but the first instance of his religion faltering happens when he witnesses the death that surrounds him. As he hears a Jew recite the prayer for the dead, he questions his religion for the first time, wondering how a god so mighty could let children burn along with their mothers. He thinks, ”Why should I bless his name... What had I to thank him for?” (31), He also feels as though the barracks where he is forced to stay is the “antechamber of hell". He believes what he has entered is literally the worst place god could have placed him, and wonders what divine being would ever wish this upon those who worship His name.

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The burning of the children that this young boy is witnessing hits him hard and slowly tears to shreds a lot of which he used to value He says, “Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever” . The contrast from the beginning of the German takeover, which was around the spring, to the start of the New Year is immense. As the novel progresses and Eliezer faces more hardships, he starts to ask God questions, finally questioning the faith he had never doubted all those years. “,HWhy do You still trouble their sick minds, their crippled bodies?”.  Eliezer challenges God once more, asking the reason for blessing Him. As most of the camps’ Jews gather for a service, a Eliezer refuses to pray, and reflects upon the way he used to "believe profoundly", Eliezer does not tolerate the way his god would let these people be treated.

He does not understand how the Jews can still bless Him, when He has shown no mercy He reflects that, “Once, [ had believed profoundly that upon one solitary deed of mine, one solitary prayer, depended the salvation of the world”, and it surprises him that he could ever be so indulged in the name of his god when it means nothing [0 him now (65). He realizes there is something now missing inside him, and says, "In the depths of my heart, I felt a great void". Another part of the book that affected Eliezer was the hanging of a young boy, in front of thousands of people. Eliezer witnessed the “sad-eyed angel”, as he died slowly in a great amount of pain. This contributed to his loss in faith in his god because of how disturbing it is to hang a child in front of so many people, or just to hang a child in general forjust trying to survive.

He answers to a voice asking where god is, and says “‘Where is He? Here He is— He is hanging here on this gallows...”. Eliezer believes his soup tastes of corpse that night, which is a dreadful thing to think of the food that offers him the most hope of survival In that moment, Eliezer‘s god was dead because he was hung on the gallows with the little boy in Eliezer‘s mind, That was the end of his faith in his god, As Eliezer questions his religion, it completely diminishes in his weary heart. This is ironic because although it may have seemed that in the beginning of the novel, he had a very strong relationship with God; however, in reality, because he never once questioned his faith, the moment he faces terrible circumstances he blames God and slowly stops believing.

By the end of the novel, Eliezer does not have a belief in the god he once did. Instead he believes in certain souls, like his friend Juliek who dies playing the violin as a last stand. Eliezer does not feel like he can put faith into anything but certain martyrs who keep on fighting even when they know their time has come (90), Eliezer‘s final prayer to god shows that even though he knew it wouldn’t work, he was asking within himself to get strength. “My God, Lord of the Universe, give me strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahou’s son has done" (87). He no longer prays to his god, he is asking within himself to find the strength to not be a horrible person and leave his father behind.

This book has so much significance, because it creates a personal reaction for the reader. The events that take place, while dramatic, are reaHife events that happened to a young boy. The ending has the most impact where all that is left of a once young and innocent boy is just a c0rpse. The Jews never believe the truth, instead they keep faith in a god who is not helping them. By the time they survive the camps, if they are lucky enough to, they have nothing left. They are not brainless, although they wish to be, they are completely soulless, The author’s purpose was to inform the society that much could have been done to prevent so many lives from being taken in the Holocaust. The first step is just to be aware that the horrific event did happen, and that it could happen in the future if we do not avoid it at all costs.

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