Discuss the role self-respect plays in an individual's response to injustice in Night by Elie Wiesel.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are specific instances in Night where self-respect plays a vital role in an individual's response to injustice.

One specific example of where self-respect is significant to an individual's reaction to unfairness can be seen in chapter 4.  The Nazis have chosen to execute two young men.  When one of them is about to die by hanging, he says, "Long live liberty!"  This is an example of how self-respect formulates an individual's response to injustice: it is his self-respect that makes him speak out and in so doing deny the defamation and degradation accompanying execution at the hand of the Nazis. [If we look further at his quotation, we find not self-respect but a desire for revenge: applying curses is an act of retribution and revenge.]

Another example can be seen in Moshe the Beadle's desire to return to Sighet.  He wants to warn the citizens of what the Nazis have planned.  His self-respect and his love for others make him believe that he was "chosen" to live.  He has so much respect for this mission that he endures the taunts from the people of Sighet who doubt him.  Finally, I think that Akiba Drumer can represent an example of how self-respect is critical to an individual's response to injustice.  He refuses to let the Nazis break his faith in the Talmud.  His religious faith sustains him. Even when he knows that he will not be saved, Akiba Drumer asks others to recite the Kaddish for him.  His resistance towards the Nazis is seen in his faith, and embodies another example how self-respect plays a vital role in an individual's response to injustice.