How does social responsibility appear in Night by Elie Wiesel?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the midst of unimaginable horrors and humans exhibiting brutal behavior, there are five good examples of people who did show social responsibility and courage toward their fellow man. Despite being scorned and called crazy by the Jews of Sighet, Moshe the Beadle is unwavering in his warnings about the atrocities he witnessed in the forest of Galicia. He feels that his purpose in surviving was to come back and convince the townspeople of what was coming. He tells Elie,

"I wanted to come back to Sighet to tell you the story of my death. So that you could prepare yourselves while there was still time. To live? I don't attach any importance to my life anymore. I'm alone. No, I wanted to come back, and to warn you. And see how it is, no one will listen to me...."

Elie's family's servant Martha also shows amazing courage in urging Elie's father to escape to her village where she will hide them. She was risking her life in an attempt to do the socially correct thing and go against the evil of the Nazis. Another good example of someone showing social responsibility is the man at the "selection" as Elie and his father first enter Birkenau. The man tells them to lie about their ages so that they will not appear too young or too old when they face Dr. Mengele. The strategy works and we presume that this was not the first time he gave this advice to men going through the selection.

At Buna there were two more examples of men doing the right thing. When another selection comes up at the work camp of Buna, the kapo who had been in concentration camps since 1933, tried to give his men advice and quiet their fears as the SS examines them. He tells his men to run and display vigor during the examinations. Afterward he tries to instill a sense of confidence in the men by saying none of them were selected. He is, of course, lying, but he is doing the only humane thing he could think of. Finally, the doctor who treats Elie's swollen foot is socially responsible not only by being a good doctor but also by having a friendly and caring attitude toward his patients. Elie calls this man "great" which is a word that does not come up often in his narrative of life in the death camps.