Even with the loss of humanity, what signs of hope does Elie Wiesel convey?

Expert Answers
mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Despite the inhumanity and atrocities which pervade the camps, there is evidence of humanity and hope in five separate incidents in Elie Wiesel's memoir Night. In section two, just before the selection conducted by the notorious Dr. Mengele, an unknown man comes to the rescue of Elie and his father by telling them to change their ages, Elie to eighteen and his father to forty. This probably saved their lives, and the man who helped them was certainly risking his own life.

In section three, Elie tells the story of the French girl who worked with him in the warehouse at Buna. After he is beaten by Idek (described as having "bouts of madness"), the girl wipes his face and smiles at him. She tells him, in perfect German, to be patient and save his anger. She places herself at risk by revealing she can speak German, but she cannot resist coming to his aid and exhibiting her humanity.

There are two examples of "Kapos" (Jews who were put in charge by the SS) who displayed both kindness and restraint in the treatment of the men they supervised. Elie reports that the Dutch "Oberkapo," who was found with a store of arms, was loved like a brother by his men, and "No one had ever received a blow at his hands, nor an insult from his lips." Later at Buna, just before another selection, the Kapo in charge gives the men advice about passing and tries to comfort everyone by telling them they will all survive. Even though he knows some will be taken to their deaths he displays kindness and confidence to his men to the very end.

Finally, in the most desperate hours during the forced march from Buna to Buchenwald, the violinist Juliek, who is almost trampled to death, plays a fragment of a concerto by Beethoven. Elie says "he had never heard sounds so pure." In the midst of dead and dying men the sounds of civilization can still be heard in the most savage and barbarous conditions, revealing a glimmer of hope for Elie.