In Chapter 6 of Night, what was Juliek's last act?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juliek's last act was to play his violin "to an audience of dying and dead men".

After the grueling march from the camp at Buna, the prisoners finally arrive at their destination, Gleiwitz.  In the"pitch darkness" they are "rapidly the barracks".  The men are so exhausted that they collapse in a heap on the floor, suffocating each other with the weight of their bodies.  Elie hears a familiar voice cry out that he is being crushed; it is Juliek, "the boy from Warsaw who played the violin in the band at Buna".  Amazingly, Juliek is worried about his violin, which he has managed to bring with him.

Elie struggles in the darkness and succeeds in "digging a hole through (the) wall of dying people...through which (he) (can) drink in a small quantity of air".  He tries to sleep, and is shocked when he hears "the sound of a violin, in (the) dark shed, where the dead (are) heaped on the living".  It is "a fragment from Beethoven's concerto...sounds so pure", played by a man "at the brink of his own grave".  Juliek plays

"as though (his) soul were the bow...playing his life...the whole of his life...gliding on the strings...his lost hopes, his charred past, his extinguished future...he play(s) as he (will) never play again".

Elie does not know how long Juliek plays because he is overtaken by sleep.  When he awakes in the daylight, he sees Juliek opposite him, "slumped over dead...near him (lies) his violin, smashed, trampled, a strange overwhelming little corpse" (Chapter 6).