In Night by Elie Wiesel, how do the small joys and kindnesses that Eliezer describes illustrate the theme of human dignity in the face of inhuman cruelty?

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sarahc418 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the memoir, Elie Wiesel indicates great dehumanization occurring, however, he also includes the topic of human dignity in the face of inhumanity. Throughout the memoir, there are couples of fathers and sons who have to do grave and horrible things to each other in exchange for their own lives. One man runs ahead while his father is trampled to death, another man must throw his father into the furnace to die, etc.

This can best be shown through his relationship with his father. Elie and his father have a deep bond that the other victims of the holocaust declare as being dangerous. Many men advise Elie to leave behind his father or to steal his food. In this situation, the people in the camps have been so dehumanized by the Nazis that they act only in order to survive. Elie clings to his humanity by refusing to treat his father any less than he would in another circumstance. At the end, his father is dying, and Elie sticks by his side, feeding him, allowing him to drink. Men come in and tell Elie to steal his father's food because Elie needs it for his own strength. However, when his father finally dies, "I had no more tears. And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, could I have searched it, I might perhaps have found something like-free at last!"(Wiesel chapter 8). This indicates to the reader that despite clinging to his last bits of humanity and human kindness, he still cannot help but feel relief that he can focus on his own survival. 


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