List and explain 3 examples of how animal imagery is used throughout Night by Elie Wiesel.

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wiesel uses animal imagery throughout Night to show the dehumanizing effect of the concentration camp on both the prisoners and the guards. 

For example, when Elie's father is beaten by a gypsy at Auschwitz, Elie describes his father falling to the ground and "crawling back to his place on all fours." Elie's father has been treated so savagely that he becomes animal-like in his reactions. 

Both the prisoners and guards are at times described as wolves. For example, Elie describes the head of the tent as a German whose hands are "like a wolf's paws." The head of the tent is savage in his behavior and his comparison to a wolf expresses this savagery. 

Later, during an air raid, Elie describes two cauldrons of soup left over that no one dares to touch. He says that hundreds of prisoners eyed them covetously and describes the soup cauldrons as "two lambs, with a hundred wolves lying in wait for them." A lone prisoner approaches the soup, "crawling like a worm." In this example, the prisoners are so hungry that they have become the wolves or worms. They've been reduced by hunger and torture to animal-like states. In the concentration camp, everyone is animal-like because the barbarity is so great that it reduces the guards to animals and the prisoners to frightened creatures who only have their will to survive intact and whose humanity has otherwise been stripped away from them. 

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The use of animal imagery throughout the novel Night provides a compelling argument in regards to the Jews being simply regarded as nothing but animals to the Nazis.

In one example, Elie is describing the transport of Jews to the camps. Asa the Jews board the trains, Elie notices that his fellow Jews are passing him looking as if they were "beaten dogs."

Another example of animal imagery in the novel is seen when Elie is describing how the Jews were being herded through the synagogue. Here, the reference to cattle is apparent.

One last use of animal imagery appears when Elie is describing a point in time where Idek loses his mind. An unstable person, by either nature or through the ordeal he is facing, Idek has many moments where his behaviors are indescribable. In this example, Idek "leapt on me [Elie] like a wild animal." His behavior is no longer human. Instead, the behavior is seen as wild and uncivilized,much like the behaviors animals exhibit.