Examine the simile that the author uses in comparing Moshe the Beadle's appeareance?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wiesel's use of the clown simile effectively conveys Moshe the Beadle in both appearance and reception.  The first introduction to Moshe the Beadle is based off of this simile:

Physically, he was as awkward as a clown. His waiflike shyness made people smile. As for me, I liked his wide, dreamy eyes, gaz-ing off into the distance. 

The simile enables the reader to understand Moshe.  He was physically awkward and the clown simile illuminates this.  In the way he was viewed in the community, someone who is not really understood and kept at a distance, the clown simile also works. Moshe was an outsider.  In the same way that a clown is an outsider, not someone taken within, the simile conveys Moshe's being in Sighet.  The description of Moshe as a clown also reflects how the townspeople of Sighet viewed his spirituality.  They were amused by it, almost entertained.  When Moshe returns to warn them of what is going to happen, they cannot take him seriously.  In the end, the clown simile becomes reflective of how they dismiss him and the doom that awaits them in doing so.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 1, Eliezer describes the foreign Jew named Moishe the Beadle. Moishe becomes his spiritual guide to understanding the Kabbalah and is the first citizen to witness the Nazi atrocities in the Galician forest. Eliezer uses a simile to describe Moishe the Beadle by saying,

Physically, he was as awkward as a clown. His waiflike shyness made people smile (Wiesel, 28).

By comparing Moishe the Beadle's physical appearance to a clown, Eliezer gives insight into why the community does not believe him when he returns to Sighet after escaping a Nazi firing squad. His awkward physique and "waiflike shyness" make people view him as a joke and something to smile at. He is not a prestigious, respected man in the community, and the citizens of Sighet do not take him seriously. His awkward appearance and shy demeanor contribute to their inability to believe his story regarding the Nazi atrocities. He is essentially viewed as a kind, homeless man who is rather amusing to look at and interact with, which is why the citizens do not heed his warnings.