How do the people Wiesel interacts with strengthen or diminish his hope and desire to live?Talk about his father, Juliek (the violin player), the French girl, Rabbi Eliahou & his son, the...

How do the people Wiesel interacts with strengthen or diminish his hope and desire to live?

Talk about his father, Juliek (the violin player), the French girl, Rabbi Eliahou & his son, the Nazis. Which of their actions touched you the most?

Expert Answers
amartin311 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wiesel's desire to survive is most impacted by his father. From the very beginning of the novel, Wiesel emphasizes the strength of the family bond, and, once separated from his mother and sister, Wiesel does what is necessary to stay with his father. Having someone to care for and depend on gives him a purpose for carrying on. At the end of the novel, as they are being transported on a train, Wiesel thinks his father is dead, and he says, "Suddenly, the evidence overwhelmed me: there was no longer any reason to live, any reason to fight" (Wiesel, 99). His father, however, is not dead, and he continues to be an inspiration for Wiesel to persevere.

The French girl plays a small role in giving him hope, but the fact that he recognizes her years later shows that her small act of kindness does leave an impression on him. When Wiesel is beaten brutally by one of the guards, it is the French girl, who actually speaks German (though no one knows it), who gives Wiesel encouragement to stay strong and not react and make the situation worse.

The encounter with Rabbi Eliahou and his son strengthens Wiesel's desire to live in a different way. As they are being marched from one concentration camp to another, Wiesel witnesses the rabbi's son running ahead when he realizes his father cannot keep up. Once he realizes what has happened, Wiesel prays that he will never do what Rabbi Eliahou's son had done. In spite of the horrifying circumstances, Wiesel will not abandon his own father.

Juliek brings Wiesel a few moments of peace during the journey. When the Nazis have taken so much away, Juliek plays Beethoven, and Wiesel seems to feel as if Juliek is playing from the very depths of his soul. It does not really provide a desire or will to live so much as a moment of respite that lulls him to sleep. When Wiesel wakes to find Juliek dead next to him, there is not a lot of reaction to the death. At this point in the journey, it seems that Wiesel has become somewhat numb to the deaths of those around him.

Finally, the Nazis provoke Wiesel's anger and his determination not to be beaten by them. They have him under their control, but he is not going to give in to their treatment of him. While Wiesel does fear the Nazis' brutality, he also does not give in to it, and he does what he needs to survive. It is this strong will which carries him through the horrific marches he is forced to endure in the end.

mkcapen1 | Student

The Nazis had two different effects on Elie's desire to survive.  They made him feel tired and defeated at times and at other times they made him more resolved to live.  The presence of having his father with him benefited Elie in the beginning because he was not alone enduring the experience.  He had someone with him who loved him.  They needed each other and worked together to survive.  Later in the story Elie finds his father has become a burden for him.  He has not stopped loving his father, but he feels that he could survive better if he were not present. 

The Rabbi and his so probably made Elie less likely to want to live.  I believe that Elie was meant to be a survivor and that none of the people affected his decision to continue to go on.  It was his nature to try and survive.

The character that affected me the most was the young boy who had been hung.  He was still alive for over 30 minutes.  He was just a boy who never got to become a man.  He had not had the best of life already but because he was a servant to a master who had committed crimes against the Nazis.