Night Questions and Answers
by Elie Wiesel

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In chapter 6 of Night, what was Juliek's last act?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter six, the Jewish prisoners finally arrive at a camp in Gleiwitz after marching throughout the night and are completely exhausted from the treacherous journey. Shortly after arriving at the camp, the majority of prisoners fall down and Elie fears that he will be crushed to death. Juliek, the violinist from Buna, also fears that his instrument will break under the pressure of the exhausted prisoners. Elie then loses consciousness, and when he awakens, he hears the sound of Juliek playing a fragment of Beethoven's concerto in the dark, crowded barrack. Elie is then overcome with sleep, and when he awakens the next day, he discovers that Juliek died during the night. Overall, Juliek's last act was to play Beethoven on his violin for the malnourished, exhausted Jewish prisoners before he passed away later that night.

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Juliek's last act was to play his violin "to an audience of dying and dead men".

After the grueling march from the camp at Buna, the prisoners finally arrive at their destination, Gleiwitz.  In the"pitch darkness" they are "rapidly installed...in the barracks".  The men are so exhausted that they collapse in a heap on the floor, suffocating each other with the weight of their bodies.  Elie hears a familiar voice cry out that he is being crushed; it is Juliek, "the boy from Warsaw who played the violin in the band at Buna".  Amazingly, Juliek is worried about his violin, which he has managed to bring with him.

Elie struggles in the darkness and succeeds in "digging a hole through (the) wall of dying people...through which (he) (can) drink in a small quantity of air".  He tries to sleep, and is shocked when he hears "the sound of a violin, in (the) dark shed, where the dead (are) heaped on the living".  It is "a fragment from Beethoven's concerto...sounds so pure", played by a man "at the brink of his own grave".  Juliek plays

"as though (his) soul were the bow...playing his life...the whole of his life...gliding on the strings...his lost hopes, his charred past, his extinguished future...he play(s) as he (will) never play again".

Elie does not know how long Juliek plays because he is overtaken by sleep.  When he awakes in the daylight, he sees Juliek opposite him, "slumped over dead...near him (lies) his violin, smashed, trampled, a strange overwhelming little corpse" (Chapter 6).

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