In Elie Wiesel's Night, what does the "sad-eyed angel" symbolize?

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brodertj eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most moving scenes in Elie Wiesel’s Night occurs when a young boy beloved by the other prisoners at Auschwitz is executed by hanging. Wiesel describes him as having the face of an angel, even as the guards march him to the gallows. Because of his small size, the noose fails to break his neck, but slowly strangles him to death over the course of an hour. As the thousands of prisoners watch the boy’s needless suffering, Elie hears a man behind him speak:

“For God’s sake, where is God?”

And from within me, I heard a voice answer:

“Where is He? This is where – hanging from this gallows…”

Up until this moment Elie’s faith is already severely shaken by the horrors he has witnessed in Auschwitz. Yet seeing this innocent boy, this “sad-eyed angel” suffer so much during his death, the moment symbolizes the death of God to Elie. Elie recounts that later that evening the soup tastes like ashes, another powerful symbol that all he once believed has been burned away much like the millions of Jews sent to the crematorium.