How does Elisha deal with the thoughts of humanity, justice, and ethics throughout the novel.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elisha's struggle with the intense topics of consciousness help to define the narrative.  The experience of the Holocaust has altered what defines humanity, justice, and ethics in Elisha's being.  There is no clear answer to his intellectual or moral struggles.  It is in this light where Wiesel makes a profound statement about how individuals who endure massive upheaval in their lives are permanently changed as a result of it.  Little become clear, detailed in the ending of the narrative:  

Soon there was only a tattered fragment of darkness, hanging in mid-air, the other side of the window. Fear caught my throat. The tattered fragment of darkness had a face. The face was my own.

Nothing is clear in this ending.  When Elisha becomes a killer, there is no resolution and little in way of clarity offered.  The only element that becomes evident is that Elisha has to wrestle with the reality that he has both made and one that has been made for him.  Elisha does not have a direct path and clear understanding of how to understand humanity, justice, and ethics because the world from which he has emerged and the world in which he lives lacks an understanding of these concepts.  It is in this where Elisha becomes a product of his world, possessing the capacity for destruction and little in way of a path to understand construction.  This becomes the shadow and spectre that is cast over Elisha's understanding of humanity, justice, and ethics in the narrative.

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