Eliezer has survived a treacherous ordeal at Auschwitz in Night.  How is it that he is able to survive?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

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

Posted on

Eliezer's survival in Night is critical to the novel's themes.  There is no grand or external intervention that saves him.  Nor is there absolution given. Rather, Eliezer survives because he incrementally loses bonds towards those forces that used to occupy significance for him.  Eliezer's gradual transformation from a human being to one who only focuses on survival and the need to live are critical elements that enable him to survive.  Along with the randomness of life in the camps, the narrative reveals that one of the most horrific aspects of the Holocaust is how issues like life and death had no existing overall structure to them.  They simply "happened."

Eliezer's survival in the camp is predicated upon the gradual withering away of the bonds that once defined his being.  Through selection after selection, Eliezer sees the bonds between he and his family, his people, and his God removed.  The repudiation of these bonds enables him to focus solely on his survival.  Interestingly enough, this becomes one of the points of commentary in the narrative.  Wiesel speaks to how the withering of bonds enables individuals to survive, primarily because they care of nothing else except for their own need to live:

I felt no pity for him. In fact, I was pleased with what was happening to him: my gold crown was safe. It could be useful to me one day, to buy something, some bread or even time to live. At that moment in time, all that mattered to me was my daily bowl of soup, my crust of stale bread. The bread, the soup, those were my entire life. I was nothing but a body.

When Eliezer speaks of himself as being "nothing but a body," it shows how survival was all that matter for Eliezer. Being able to only concern with himself of his own survival is precisely what enables him to survive.  At the same time, the repudiation of connective bonds between human beings is why this happens.  For Eliezer, survival becomes the natural consequence of a world where there is no transcendence, except for the universality of death.  It is the result of living in a world where redemption and restoration are absent.  Wiesel suggests that such a condition reveals the terror of the Holocaust.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question