In Elie Wiesel's Night, how did Elie survive?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fact that Elie Wiesel survived his ordeal of being sent to the ghettos and then various concentration camps seems to be mere luck.  Wiesel answers this very question in the "Preface to the New Translation:"

"I don't know how I survived;  I was weak, rather shy;  I did nothing to save myself.  A miracle?  Certainly not......It was nothing more than chance."   Night, VII-VIII, Elie Wiesel

When examining the struggle of Wiesel and his father from the ghettos to the final destination at Buchenwald one understands the randomness of how death selected its victims.  Consider the journey on the open-air train to Buchenwald. One hundred passengers embarked and only twelve survived. What gave those twelve the ability and strength to disembark from that train?  Consider the factors they had to contend with:  famine, exhaustion, disease, and the trauma of the whole event.  When Wiesel says it was mere chance for him to survive, it seems to make a lot of sense.

After completing the memoir, the reader is compelled to believe that the fact that Eliezer was accompanied by his father during every step of this horrific journey played a significant role in his survival.  Throughout the book, Wiesel states how important it was that he was not separated from his father.  This poignant passage describing a harsh march in the winter cold is significant to understanding this connection:

My father's presence was the only thing that stopped me (from giving up). He was running next to me, out of breath, out of strength, desperate.  I had no right to let myself die.  What would he do without me?  I was his sole support.     --Night, Page 86-87