Identify an example of an effective metaphor in Night.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the reasons why Wiesel's work is so powerful is because its characters, itself, become metaphoric ways to understand the world.  Juliek playing his violin amidst the world of death, the little boy dying for thirty minutes while in the noose because his head was too small, or Madame Schachter or Moshe the Beadle sharing their prophetic experiences only to be rejected are examples of walking metaphors that allow the reader to both understand the experiences of Eliezer, but also view the world differently.  I think that the best example of a straight metaphor would have to be when Eliezer describes his first night at Auschwitz- Birkenau in the poem, "Never Shall I Forget."  Consider some of the images that serve as powerful metaphors:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith for ever.

The idea of the metaphor of smoke and fire as being something that represents the burning of hope, of bonds, or of connection with those elements that can help to define reality is a powerful one.  Fire being used as a metaphor of destruction is akin to what Madame Schachter saw on the train and was silenced for articulating.  The metaphor of fire and what it destroys is a powerful way of describing the Holocaust experience, and is also brought out in the end when Eliezer cannot recognize the vision in front of him in the mirror.  One sees that the metaphorical value of fire and burning has resulted in a literal changing of Eliezer's reality, making it an effective and articulate metaphor.