Describe how various forms of discrimination are present throughout Night?(racism, ageism and/or sexism)

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The entirety of the Holocaust itself is a picture of arguably one of the largest displays of racism in history.  Keep in mind that Hitler used propaganda for years teaching Germans why they were the "superior race."  Jews were not the only targets of the discrimination, though they were the largest group.  Propaganda taught that anything that was not inherently Aryan was "less than" human.  In Night, examples of discrimination start as Jewish families are moved from their homes and to the ghettos, then treated like animals as they are piled into train cars, and continues throughout the story as we see Elie's experience in the concentration camps.

In addition to racial discrimination, the first clear example of ageism and sexism comes at the very first selection in Section 3.  As Elie, 14, and his father, 50, approach the front of the line, they are advised to lie about their ages.  They tell the man they are 18 and 40.  In this example of ageism, it is obvious that the selection means to weed out those who are too young or too old to work.

Also in this section, the women and children are split from the men.  It is assumed that more women and children were killed during these initial selections for the same reason as above, they would have been less emotionally and physically fit to work.

Ageism is shown through the rest of the story in Elie's father's increasing fear of being chosen in each selection.  He knows he is older than most, and considers it merely luck that he survives as long as he does.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elie Wiesel’s semi-autobiographical book Night tells the story of his survival of the Holocaust during World War II. Therefore, discrimination is pervasive throughout the entirety of the book. 

Nazi racism is well-known. Hitler’s “final solution” to what Nazi Germany considered its “Jewish problem” has been the subject of countless books, articles, movies, and television shows. It was based on a level of racial hatred that is hard for most people to understand. The ageism and sexism we see in the book are more of a practical matter in the Nazi point of view—the old, as well as many females, were killed because they weren’t able to work hard enough to justify the cost of keeping them alive.

It is probably true that most Germans, even in Nazi-dominated Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, would not have approved of what happened in the Holocaust. Hitler and the Nazis were able to capitalize on social and economic conditions, some of which were a result of World War I, to generate an atmosphere in which ordinary people tolerated outrageous racial and cultural prejudice.

This is the lesson we should take from Wiesel’s work, which reflects the representation of the cruelty of discrimination in Night. While we might not be guilty of such prejudice and hatred ourselves, are we doing the work necessary to eliminate it from our own lives and our own society?


thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sexism occurs when the men and women are separated on arrival to Auschwitz. Eliezer is separated from his mother and sisters in Auschwitz, and that is the last time he ever sees them. The German soldiers believed that women added no real value in the camps and they murdered most of them.

Ageism is evident when Eliezer and his father are forced to lie about their ages in order to avoid being thrown in the crematory on arrival to Auschwitz.

Racism is evident through the torture and murder of the Jews by the Germans.

Apart from racism, ageism, and sexism, other different types of discrimination are evident in the story. The Jews of Sighet demonstrate discrimination against the poor based on their treatment of Moshe the Beadle. They also discriminate against foreigners by failing to stand up for the foreign Jews targeted by the German soldiers.