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Why is it ironic that the leaders of the Jewish community were arrested during the...

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micheelleex | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 20, 2011 at 1:29 AM via web

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Why is it ironic that the leaders of the Jewish community were arrested during the celebration of Passover?

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

Posted November 26, 2011 at 11:29 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that Wiesel understands the significance on a couple of levels in the timing of the deportations and Nazi intrusion into Sighet.  On one hand, it reflects the sadism of the Nazis in disrupting one of the holiest of occasions in the Judaic faith and bringing the followers of the religion to death at that specific moment.  Wiesel does not hesitate in displaying the sadism of the Nazis in so many moments in the narrative that to bring this out in the opening is almost a foreshadowing of what is to come.  From a thematic point of view, Wiesel is also able to evoke the questioning of spiritual faith that will dominate the work.  The structure of the narrative is one where the questioning of faith is part of the work's structure and part of the narrative's essence.  There is a questioning of God and the paradigm of religious salvation throughout the narrative.  Part of the Nazi cruelty is to, in a sense, "murder" the notion of God for a community that placed so much stock in the power of the divine.  The arrests and deportations that happen during Passover is merely one part of this chain or sequence where faith and spiritual identity were obliterated in the shadow of the gas chamber.

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sharonalleebell | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 20, 2011 at 6:05 AM (Answer #2)

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One reason that this is ironic is because of the symbolism of Passover. Originally, the Angel of Death passed over the houses of the Jews who had painted lamb's blood on their door posts. The first born of the Egyptians were killed. This directly led to the free of the Jewish slaves in Egypt and to the Jews escape to the promised land. The irony of the arrest of these Jews is because they lost their freedom on the celebration of the event that led to the Jewish people's freedom so many thousands ofnyears before.

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