During one of the preliminary "ceremonies" for a hanging in Night, what did Juliek whisper to Elie? What does this suggest?

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Immediately prior to this scene, Elie and the other prisoners hear air-raid sirens, which sends the SS officers running for shelter. They all believe that the lines of war are inching closer to them at the camp, but Elie recognizes that he is no longer afraid of a death in...

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Immediately prior to this scene, Elie and the other prisoners hear air-raid sirens, which sends the SS officers running for shelter. They all believe that the lines of war are inching closer to them at the camp, but Elie recognizes that he is no longer afraid of a death in the name of liberation. Instead, every explosion the prisoners hear fills them with "joy" and gives them "new confidence in life." The SS officers do not share these same sentiments, so the approaching war has them in a state of tense anxiety.

Around this time, a boy is brought out to be hung; Elie notes that he has already been imprisoned for three years and is still strong. Thus, his acts of insubordination are a further threat to the SS workers.

As they prepare for his hanging, Juliek whispers to Elie, "Do you think this ceremony’ll be over soon? I’m hungry."

This is indicative of a loss of empathy among the prisoners, replaced by their own priority of survival. Juliek sees the next piece of bread as a greater concern than the condemned boy who stands before them. Perhaps this is due to the power of the SS officers to remove each prisoner's sense of self-control. The prisoners are no longer in command of any aspect of their fate; they are fed, spared, and killed at the whim of the men in charge of the camp. Or perhaps Juliek sees that he cannot do anything to save the condemned boy, but he can eat one more meal to try to save himself.

Nevertheless, his comment shows that some prisoners have become callous to the mistreatment of their fellow inmates and seek only to save themselves, holding out hope that the next air raid siren may bring true liberation to their horrific existence.

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In chapter four, Elie and the other Jewish prisoners are instructed to assemble in the Appelplatz with their caps off to witness a hanging. Before the Nazi officers hang the young prisoner, a unit of Schutzstaffel (SS) soldiers wielding machine guns surround the prisoners, and the snipers in the watchtowers aim their weapons toward the assembled group of prisoners. As the SS officers encircle the prisoners, Juliek tells Elie,

They're expecting trouble. (Wiesel, 86)

Juliek's comment suggests that the young man being hanged is an important figure who may have supporters throughout the crowd. As a precaution, armed SS soldiers arrive on the scene to prevent any type of rebellion or riot from taking place. Before the young man hangs, Juliek also whispers,

This ceremony, will it be over soon? I'm hungry . . . (Wiesel, 87)

Juliek's comment emphasizes the extent of depravity and malnutrition the prisoners are suffering from. Juliek's comment also suggests that the foremost thought on many prisoners's minds is food. When the young man mounts the gibbet, he yells,

Long live liberty! My curse on Germany! My curse! My— (Wiesel, 87)

The young man's comments portray him as a rebellious prisoner who more than likely planned an uprising, which explains the increased police presence. Elie and the prisoners witness the hanging but are not disturbed by the young man's death, which differs from their reaction to the hanging of the young, innocent-looking pipel later in the chapter.

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During one of the preliminary "ceremonies" for hanging, Juliek whispers to Elie "This ceremony, will it be over soon? I’m hungry . . ." This indicates the degree to which he and the other inmates have been degraded and brutalized by their experiences in the camp. Here Juliek is witnessing the slow, painful death of an innocent human being—a small child, at that—yet all he can think about is where his next meal is coming from. Juliek's natural instinct for survival and self-preservation has kicked in, overriding any sense of morality or sympathy he may otherwise have felt.

Later on in the book, Elie has a similar experience when his father dies. At that terrible moment, he doesn't cry; the tears just won't come. Wracked by chronic hunger, all he can think about is his next ration of soup.

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The quote you are after is one of the key quotes in Night that directly relates to the theme of God and religion in the context of the holocaust. It comes as the prisoners watch a child, beloved of all the camp, being hung. His death is not swift, but is long and agonising. Although many of the prisoners do not cry, having suffered too much, witnessing this event they do cry.

"Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked. ..
For more than half an hour [the child in the noose] stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
“Where is God now?”
And I heard a voice within me answer him:
“Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows. . . .”

This gruesome event clearly indicates the nadir of the relationship that Eliezer has with God. The death of the child could also be said to symbolise the death of Elie's childhood and innocence. Interestingly, before the holocaust, questioning God was obviously something that had never entered Elie's mind. He said to Moshe in response to the question why he prays, “Why did I pray? What a strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe?” His experiences of the holocaust clearly challenge and impact his belief about God. One way of looking at this novel is to think of it as a kind of coming of age story, but one in which the innocence and youth of the protagonist are gradually flayed away by the horror he undergoes.

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