"Our eyes were opened, but too late." What does this quote from Night mean?

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kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a quote from Elie Wiesel's memoir, Night. In context, Wiesel was commenting on the fact that his community, the Jews of Sighet, had come to realize that the Nazi party had something terrible planned for them. Until they were actually packed onto trains and sent to camps, Wiesel's community was in denial that anything really bad was going to happen. At least they had hope that despite their mistreatment thus far, they might turn out all right. The Jews of Sighet came to realize their fate when it was too late to do anything about it. If they had realized earlier, they might have been able to flee the ghetto and perhaps the country. They might have been able secure their safety in some way. At this point, they are already on trains and will be delivered to concentration camps, where many will die.

Though it is especially poignant with regards to the mistreatment of those who suffered during the Holocaust, this quote can be considered outside of the context of Wiesel's book. Have you ever been in a situation where something bad happened, and you came to realize how you could have prevented it? Or perhaps you did not fully understand a relationship or situation until it was already over? Most people have experienced something like this, so this quote surely adds to the impact of the book for those who may feel far removed from the tragedy of the Holocaust.

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Night

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