What does the last line at the end of the book, Night, "a corpse gazed back at me" mean?

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literaturenerd's profile pic

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The last lines of the Elie Wiesel's novel, Night, is as follows:

From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.

Here, Eliezer Wiesel is ending his recollection of his time as a prisoner and survivor of the Holocaust. The last lines of the text leave the reader with a real and horrifying image of a survivor's inner self.

Wiesel is stating that while he was able to survive the concentration camps he was held prisoner in, he fails to see himself as truly alive. The experiences he faced, the horrors he witnessed, and the terrors he lived killed him on the inside. Even though he survived physically, he no longer recognizes himself. His soul and body have separated.

This idea is compounded by allotting a separate being to the image in the mirror. Wiesel is no longer whole. But, hope can be found (even as dark as the passage is). Wiesel recognizes that his "being" as part of the camps is dead. Wiesel is left with the fact that he did survive, while badly battered and broken.

mlsldy3's profile pic

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In Night, Elie Wiesel recounts his time in Auschwitz. The Jewish people suffered such horrors that most of them were killed or died while being held captive. Elie goes into great detail of the horrors suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Elie lost so much while he was a prisoner. His entire family was lost, he lost his faith, and he almost lost his life. Throughout the book Elie questions God about what is happening to him and the other Jews.

By the end of the book, Elie is barely alive. As he gazes into the mirror after being freed from the camps, Elie looks at his reflection. He questions whether he is still inside the man now gazing back at him. Elie wonders if he has seen too much and gone too far. He questions whether the old Elie will ever return. Elie considers himself a walking corpse at this point. 

Elie's struggles would have killed the strongest of people, but Elie survived. He wonders whether he will ever be able to live a normal life again. Elie Wiesel has gone on to become a renowned man working for peace. He didn't let the horrors of what happened to him destroy him, instead he uses what happened to him as a stepping stone to help others. 


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