In Night, how is the motif of night used to explain his experiences in the camp?

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

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The motif of night in Night is used to convey the inexpressible.  Eliezer's time in the camps is something that challenges traditional language and notions of expression.  In being able to use night as a motif, it brings to light the darkness and lack of illumination on moral right and wrong in the camps.  The night is when the killing is at its worst.  In the poem, "Never Shall I Forget," the "night," "that first night," is used to convey a period in which there is no light, no illumination.

The motif of night helps to communicate the world of the camps for Eliezer.  The night motif is a symbol in which clarity about issues of right and wrong are unclear.  This is used to bring out how Eliezer rejects God and how human beings dehumanize one another.  The motif of night is something that shrouds human action, reflective of the reality in the camp where there is little in way of justice or moral righteousness.  It is in this use of the motif of night, something recurring, in which Wiesel is able to articulate that which lies beyond the grasp of traditional linguistic constructions of truth.  The use of the motif of night aids in understanding a reality in which the lack of ethical clarity and moral construction of the universe is evident.


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