Does Elie Wiesel suggest any rationale behind the Holocaust in Night?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think part of what makes the narrative so powerful is that Wiesel does not pose any simple solutions to the complex issue of human evil.  The Holocaust, and any moment in time where there is such wonton and rampant cruelty, is something that defies imagination and lies beyond the reach of words.  However, Wiesel does not capitulate easily.  His argument is that while rationale is difficult to establish, it should not prevent us from talking about the element of human suffering and the desire to expand one's moral and ethical imagination.  Wiesel does not seek to bring the Holocaust into a paradigm where all is answered.  His narrative brings to light that there is a failure in human community, in bonds between individuals being so readily dissolved and ruptured as to confound the imagination.  It also brings to light how nations or governments failed to act and protect the interest of those who endured unimaginable suffering.  At the same time, Wiesel does not spare the power of divinity and religious faith in attempting to explore why what happened did happen.  I would pay close attention to the moments such as "Never Shall I Forget" or the child hanging from the gallows.  In these instances, there is a desire to explore the issue of human suffering and cruelty from different points of analyses.  In the end, Wiesel does not suggest anything easy.  Everyone bears responsibility.  To a certain extent, this infects the reader, who has little choice but to examine their own lives and their own state of being in seeing whether or not they are  replicating the same behaviors of the cruelty in the narrative.  It is in this understanding of the difficulty in providing an answer, but also grasping the need to articulate a condition where blame is understood that makes the work distinctive from so many others.

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