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A motif is a word, character, object, image, metaphor, or idea that recurs throughout a...

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brfisher0018 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:45 PM via web

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A motif is a word, character, object, image, metaphor, or idea that recurs throughout a literary work.  In Night, Wiesel uses eyes as a motif in order to characterize those around him.  Compare and contrast the description of Moishe the Beadle before and after his deportation.  Explain how the description of his eyes reveals his personality.


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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:24 PM (Answer #1)

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At the beginning of the story, prior to his deportation, Moishe is described as having "wide, dreamy eyes, gazing off into the distance." Moishe at this time is socially a misfit but he is kind, considerate, very devout, and willing to be a mentor to young Elie as he attempts to learn more about  the mystical aspects of the Jewish faith.

When Moishe returns to Sighet after being deported, "The joy is his eyes was gone." Moishe had come back to warn the Jews of the terrible things he had experienced and witnessed; he was haunted by the terrors awaiting the others and was desparately trying to make them understand peril of the approaching danger. "He closed his eyes, as if to escape time."

Moishe's efforts were in vain. The Jews of Sighet refused to believe him, choosing to ignore the threats gathering around them. Moishe was unable to face his inability to save his friends, moving about the town with "eyes cast down, avoiding people's gaze." He had become a defeated and doomed man, incapable of helping others avoid the future he had seen.


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