Elie Wiesel’s Dawn is a novel set in British controlled Palestine after the Second World War. Elisha is an eighteen-year-old survivor of Buchenwald. Since traveling to Palestine, Elisha has joined a terrorist group to rid Palestine of the English. Now, Elisha has been commanded to murder John Dawson, an Englishman, as retribution for the death of David ben Moshe, another member in the Movement. He has until dawn to carry out his orders.
The novel begins on a hot autumn evening in Palestine, and Elisha dwells on his orders to kill a man that he has never seen. Elisha looks out the window at the growing darkness, listening as a child cries nearby. Gad encourages him to put his doubts out of mind, assuring him that it is war, but Elisha cannot do it. He instead recalls a beggar he met before the Holocaust—when his parents were still alive and when God was still in their town—that taught him to distinguish night from day. At the time, he had remembered that the prophet Elijah was said to sometimes dress as a beggar and so Elisha took the beggar from the synagogue to his home. Along the way, the beggar told him to look into a window. If he saw a face, he could be sure that night had come since night does have a face. Night comes suddenly, and Elisha looks into the window and sees his own face in the darkness.
It was Gad that brought Elisha’s orders from the Old Man just an hour before. Elisha recalls that a month ago, David ben Moshe was wounded during a terrorist action and subsequently captured. The Movement spread word through posters and underground radio broadcasts that David ben Moshe was not to be harmed. The Movement had lost enough members to the British, and so the Old Man had decided that they would match every murder of one of their own with the murder of a British soldier. The military tribunal nevertheless sentenced David ben Moshe to death, and so the Movement began to watch the English soldiers. When it became clear that John Dawson took solitary walks every evening, the Movement abducted him.
The High Commission of Palestine responded quickly. They proclaimed a forty-eight-hour curfew, they searched houses, and they declared that the population would be held responsible for Dawson’s death. However, Dawson remained hidden, while the people wondered if the British were capable of carrying out a pogrom. World opinion, they told each other, would surely not allow it; then...
(The entire section is 1765 words.)
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