How does young Elie view the world and his place in it at the beginning of Night?

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As a young boy, Eliezer concerned himself with Jewish religious studies. He read the Talmud during the day, and at night he would spend his time at the synagogue. Despite his father’s disapproval of his wish to study Jewish mysticism, Eliezer still managed to find himself a teacher in Moshe....

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As a young boy, Eliezer concerned himself with Jewish religious studies. He read the Talmud during the day, and at night he would spend his time at the synagogue. Despite his father’s disapproval of his wish to study Jewish mysticism, Eliezer still managed to find himself a teacher in Moshe. Eliezer was convinced that he had a religious calling. His family asserted that his place was at school. Eliezer was the third child and only son of Shlomo Wiesel. Eliezer’s life was comfortable. They owned a shop, his father was a highly respected member of the society in Sighet, and the situation there was peaceful. Eliezer, like the rest of Sighet, did not believe Moshe’s account of what happened during his deportation. Eliezer was convinced that such a thing could not occur. He could not comprehend how such an event could happen in a modern world.

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Elie lived a fairly comfortable life at the beginning of Night and had no real reason to anticipate that things might change. He was the only son of a highly regarded Jewish businessman and community leader. He was deeply religious and frustrated that his father would not support his wishes to learn more about the Jewish mystical beliefs, but Elie's friend Moshe helped him with beginning a study of that area.

Elie, listening to the attitudes of his father and the other adult leaders of the Jewish community in Sighet, felt secure in Hungary. They did not believe those who spread alarms about the actions of the German nation and Hitler.

Annihilate an entire people? Wipe out a population dispersed throughout so many nations? So many millions of people! By what means? In the middle of the twentieth century! And thus my elders concerned themselves with all manner of things-strategy, diplomacy, politics, and Zionism-but not with their own fate.

Because of this purposeful ignorance of warning signs in the events that happened in other places, the Jews of Sighet, including Elie, viewed the world as not being a threat to them until it was too late to save themselves from the impending disaster.

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I think that part of what makes Night so powerful is that it depicts how a person who has a firm notion of identity in the world was destabilized as a result of political and personal cruelty.  As the narrative opens, Eliezer had a firm understanding of the world and his place in it.  He understood the function of his family and recognized his role within it.  His mother was fixated on domestic duties and finding potential alliances for his oldest sister. His father was a fixture of the Sighet community. Eliezer understood his purpose in terms of studying.  In particular, Eliezer appropriates the world through a spiritually scholastic notion of the good: "By day I studied Talmud and by night I would run to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple."  Part of Eliezer's initial fascination with Moshe the Beadle is because of the spiritual connection that exists between both of them: "I succeeded on my own in finding a master for myself in the person of Moishe the Beadle."  Eliezer is clear in how he views the world and his place in it.  

Eliezer understands that his purpose is to understand the spiritual notion of identity, of his identity.  His function or purpose of being in the world is to explore this dimension of his psyche.  Eliezer is so convinced of his purpose of being that he believes all of the questions which remain in existence will be answered through spiritual exploration:  

One evening, I told him how unhappy I was not to be able to find in Sighet a master to teach me the Zohar, the Kabbalistic works, the secrets of Jewish mysticism. He smiled indulgently. After a long silence, he said, "There are a thousand and one gates allowing entry into the orchard of mystical truth. Every human being has his own gate. He must not err and wish to enter the orchard through a gate other than his own. That would present a danger not only for the one entering but also for those who are already inside."

It is clear that young Eliezer recognizes the spiritual exploration as a significant part of his identity.  In the outset of the narrative, he views the world as a means to explore the part of his spiritual sense of self that allow him to better understand what "truth" might be and how it is viewed in the world.  Eliezer's place in the world is rooted in connection to this spiritual notion of the good.  It is embedded within him.  The true horror of the Holocaust is how the Nazis stripped this from Eliezer.  The narrative reveals that true destruction lies in debasing people so badly that they would give up their sacred faith and sense of being in the world.  In the process, they lose their views about the world and their place in it.  It is the Holocaust that repudiates the certainty with which Eliezer understands the world and his place in it.

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