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I could be wrong (I don't have my book in front of me), but I think Juliek's death occurs in Chapter 6. I agree with the previous posts that the events surrounding his death are at once horrific and beautiful. Juliek dies playing Beethoven in what can be described as a final protest against the Nazis.
In Chapter 5, we see evidence of Eli's anger toward God. Akiba Drumer, a man who continually reminded the prisoners not to lose faith, falls victim to selection. Elie describes the blank stare on his face that coincided with his own loss of faith, and it is this description that helps readers to understand that even the most faithful are susceptible to a loss of faith under such devastating circumstances.
What can be more haunting than a dying man playing his own funeral song? This brief moment of humanity and beauty is something which never ceases to move me. Critics have said this is an unlikely incident, but I don't really care if it isn't true. It could have happened, and that's what matters to me.
Juliek's concert is clearly unforgettable, simultanously capturing humanity's capacity to transcend its sorrows and situation and make something beautiful out of our "charred past" and "extinguished future". Although the next day the violin is described as a "little corpse", still the concert Juliek plays gives a solitary note of hope in something bigger than mankind in the face of annihilation. How poignant - one of the many striking parts of this novel that will haunt me for a long time. akannan is write in pointing out the irony of his playing Beethoven, suggesting that music can transcend our violent acts and points towards bigger realities.
The death of Juliek represents another death of something beautiful for Eliezer. The normally cynical Juliek clung to music and with his death, it seems to be a death of another element that provided a sense of moral order and structure to the world. God, compassion, music, art, and beauty all seem to be placed under the harshest of scrutiny with the events of the Holocaust and Night. One other interesting element- Juliek's playing of Beethoven is fascinating on many levels. A victim of German aggression plays music from one of their national heroes. Can art transcend nationality? If so, can it transcend even during something as horrific as the Holocaust?
How did you react? The entire book is deeply disturbing, but I think most heartbreaking in this chapter is Juliek's death and the smashing of his violin. It is the death of a beautiful spirit and the producer of beautiful music. On the other hand, poor Juliek is finally set free and is able to play any music he wants for as long as his heart is content to play it since he is no longer trapped on earth with human tormentors.
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