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Discuss Wiesel's depiction of prisoners being dehumanized in Night.

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hguhf9 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 16, 2012 at 5:03 AM via web

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Discuss Wiesel's depiction of prisoners being dehumanized in Night.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 17, 2012 at 8:01 PM (Answer #1)

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For Wiesel, the entire premise of the Nazi control over those they victimized was predicated upon dehumanization.  The idea of dehumanization was to remove the humanity of the prisoners at each and every moment, preventing cohesion as a force and rising up against the guards.  The packing of people into trains like cattle was one form of dehumanization, ensuring that a sense of fear and discomfort would always linger.  When Eliezer and his family arrive at Auschwitz- Birkenau, they are separated into two lines.  This is done without much in way of purpose and what pervades as a sense of random selection.  This ends up being dehumanizing because issues such as life and death are so easily defined through a random movement to the left or right.  Eliezer never sees his mother and sister again and the result of this is weakening the bonds that prisoners like him feel towards others, contributing to the dehumanization that the Nazis sought to inflict.  The abuses that Eliezer suffers in terms of beatings would be another example of dehumanization, intended to remove the humanity out of the intended victim.  These are all example of how the Nazis, at their most basic, were practicing an exercise in dehumanization.

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