How do the small joys and kindnesses that Eliezer describes illustrate the theme of human dignity in the face of in human cruelty?  how do the small joys and kindnesses that Eliezer describes...

How do the small joys and kindnesses that Eliezer describes illustrate the theme of human dignity in the face of in human cruelty?

 

how do the small joys and kindnesses that Eliezer describes illustrate the theme of human dignity in the face of in human cruelty?

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

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The moments where Eliezer experiences small joys and acts of kindness help to prove Wiesel's theme of human beings retaining a voice in all circumstances, regardless of how dire the situation may be.  In a speech entitled "The Perils of Indifference," Wiesel speaks quite powerfully about the idea of being able to take action in the name of righteousness and justice in any and all circumstances.  Human beings never lose their voice unless it is by conscious and deliberate choice.  His speech speaks to the idea that:

...Indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor -- never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees -- not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity we betray our own.

This speaks quite lucidly to Wiesel's own view that our humanity is on stage at every moment to display our best and not so best.  It is with this idea that he includes the rare moments where others acknowledge Eliezer's own sense of humanity with acts of kindness and generosity in the face of horrific circumstances.  In the final analysis, these rarities, precious jewels of human character that are shown to all, display the idea that we as human beings can represent "havens in a heartless world" and "shelters from the storm" provided that we have the moral courage to do so.  In depicting these moments or examples of joy and kindness in Eliezer's situation, Wiesel is stressing that individuals are not silenced robots or automatons of suffering that have lost the ability to be the active and creative agents of their own world.  Rather, that the best of situations and worst of predicaments are impacted and developed through the human element and problem of choice.

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