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Night, by Elie Wiesel, traces Elie's own experiences of life as a young Jew during the Second World War (WWII), sent with his father to the concentration camps. He would never see his mother and siblings again.
In describing Wiesel's experiences, it would be difficult to describe the fear, the uncertainty, the hate and the disbelief through the use of factual language as mere words could never describe the suffering. Images need to be created in the mind's eye so that the reader can become engrossed in the reality and can believe what actually happened. Without using metaphors, simile, personification, rhetorical questions and irony, the story would be one of graphic abuse and torture; something that would possibly preclude some people and dissuade others from reading it. here are just a few examples.
Towards the end of Night, the images that are created are stark reminders of how even simple things can have enormous significance and the reader is aware that nothing should ever be taken for granted. For Elie and his weakening father, they have been reduced to something almost, "like a wild beast" and Elie's father is recognizable more as "a wounded animal," than his own dear father as he gracefully accepts Elie's offer of a sip of coffee.
Even in the midst of terror, Elie feels guilty for his own desire to survive. He tells the reader that, "My heart was heavy," because, although he is sharing his soup with his sick father, he is doing so "grudgingly." His father has been denied food because, as a person close to death, it would apparently be nothing more than "a waste of food" to give him his own ration. The irony of Elie's own statement, of his own sense of guilt which he feels on various occasions, sometimes wishing to be free of his responsibilities, is intensified by the cruelty by which he is surrounded but he is the one feeling ashamed and his captors feel nothing.
Elie describes his father as he continues to get weaker with his, "Face the color of dead leaves," and being so ill that, "He went by me like a shadow." The reader has no doubt that his father is fading away, this metaphor and simile confirming how Elie's father barely exists. It is ironic as he is treated as if he has already died by not receiving food rations.
As the war comes to an end, "The wheel of history turned." It is possible that Wiesel is comparing this "wheel" to the wheel of fortune. Just as the wheel of fortune is a game of chance so too, when the war ends, the fate of the Jews is still uncertain. "Fortune" can also mean "fate" and so Wiesel's suggestion that things are about to change - history- is a good thing but the scars run so deep that, for some there will be no respite and, of course, for others, it is too late anyway.
Keep in mind that as a figure of speech a metaphors and similes are direct comparisons of two things which are not literally similar. A metaphor, unlike a simile, does not use "like" or "as."
There are metaphors used throughout this short book, most of which describe the anguish and despair the main character is feeling. Depending on which translation of Night you are using, the language will be a little different. As many schools have switched to the more modern translation by Marion Wiesel, here are a few examples of metaphors from it:
If one of us stopped for a second, a quick shot eleminated the filthy dog. (Section 6, p. 85)
The road was endless. To allow oneself to be carried by the mob, to be swept away by blind fate. (Section 6, p. 87)
It is almost easier to find examples of similes within these pages because they are present almost on every page. A few examples from the same section include:
I was putting one foot in front of the other, like a machine. (Section 6, p. 85)
These human waves were rolling forward [metaphor] and would have crushed me like an ant [simile]. (Section 6, p. 87)
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