Explain the significance of these two quotes from Night.
“Listen to me, kid. Don’t forget that you are in a concentration camp. In this place, it is every man for himself, and you cannot think of others. Not even your father. In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. Each of us lives and dies alone.”
"I've got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He is the only one who's kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people."
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In the first quote, the speaker, a camp block leader, is addressing Elie, a newcomer, because he sees that the boy is concerned about his father's survival as well as his own. Elie's father is weak and near death, but Elie is determined to keep him alive, even though his actions pose a great risk to himself. The speaker tells Elie that in order to get by in a concentration camp, he must forget about everyone else but himself. Conditions are so abominable that to worry about someone besides himself, even if that person is his own father, will phenomenally decrease his own chances of coming through the experience alive. The block leader is essentially telling Elie that he will have to give up his humanity in order to survive the ordeal that awaits him. Self is the only thing that can matter to him; the determination of his own life and death depends on his ability to shut out his tendency towards compassion for all others.
The second quote expresses a bitter irony. The speaker, a Jew, says he has "more faith in Hitler than in anyone else" because Hitler's promises are the only ones he can be sure of. The irony is that Hitler's promises are all concerned with doom for the Jewish people; still, his promises can be counted on, in a world where nothing else is certain. The speaker is in effect saying that he can rest assured that Hitler will follow through with what he says; if he says that the Jews are to be exterminated, then that is what will happen. In a world gone mad, the promises of others cannot be depended upon. Others may promise hope, but their words are empty; only Hitler seems to have the power at this time to make his promises come true.
One of the most stunning elements that is revealed through Eliezer's narrative is how the Holocaust was a time of inverted value systems. One such example was how there was little in Way of human connection and solidarity in the death camps and in the Holocaust, in general. The first quote reveals this state of being where the survival and self interests of individuals overwhelmed any hopes of forming resistant based solidarity. The traditional value system, and optimistic view, was that individuals could form resistance and could form alliances against the powers that be. However, this was not the case in the narrative presented through Eliezer's experiences. There is also a theme of negation of promise. This view is enhanced by the idea that God or spiritual powers of redemption were notably absent in the Holocaust and that there was an experience that helped to form a sense of betrayal in those who endured and suffered through the experience. The second quote reflects this, suggesting that the only promises that were kept were the ones that spelled pain and suffering for the victims of the Holocaust.
"'I've got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He's the only one who's kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.'"
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