In Night, assess how young Eliezer views the world and his place in it.

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

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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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