I'm writing an essay on literary devices in Night. I need help with imagery.

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When we think of imagery we consider the way that the author of the text paints pictures for us by using as many of the five senses as possible in his or her description: sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing. Of course, most images depend heavily on sight. The visual element is always incredibly important. But it is interesting to find ways in which authors incorporate other senses to create a much fuller image. One of the most famous examples of imagery in this incredibly powerful and unforgettable text comes when Elie and his father arrive at the concentration camp and begin to face the reality of what is happening to them. In a series of statements, each beginning with "Never shall I forget," Elie evokes the horror of this experience. I will quote a few examples:

Never shall I forget the smoke.

Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.

Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.

Note how, in these quotes, we have an incredibly strong visual element describing the transformation of children into smoke as they are burnt. However, note too the way in which hearing and smell are referred to. The smoke presumably can be smelt, and the sky is "silent," as if it is protesting against this abhorrent abuse of humanity. Likewise there is a "nocturnal silence" that strips the author of the desire to live. Thus we can see in these horrific images how the author combines different senses to paint an unforgettable canvas of what he experienced.