What is a short passage from Night that is signifcant in demonstrating the author's theme? Explain the context of the passage and how it is significant in communicating the author's theme.
Night contains many themes, but two of the most dominant ones are self-preservation versus loyalty to family and emotional death. Below are examples of how Wiesel illustrates these themes.
Self-preservation versus loyalty to family: Throughout the memoir, Wiesel presents several examples of children neglecting their parents in order to survive. In Chapter 2, Madame Schachter'sson does not protect his mother from the aggressive passengers. If he had, he most likely would have been beaten with her. Later, Rabbie Eliahou'sson knows that his father is searching for him, but he remains out of his sight because he believes his father will drag him down as the prisoners try to hike/run to the next camp. Even Elie admits that when his father dies, he could not bring himself to cry. He thinks that if he searched his conscience, he might have found a feeling such as "free at last!" (116).
Emotional Death: Wiesel foreshadows his own emotional death by using an eye motif. Early on in the memoir, when Moshe the Beadle returns from his harrowing escape and tries to warn Elie's people of the dangers that await them, Wiesel describes Moshe as a shell of his earlier self. His eyes are simply black holes. Likewise, Akiba Drumer, another figure who had served as a mentor to Elie, has eyes like "opened wounds" after he becomes ill and discovers that he is heading to the death camp. Finally, at the end of the memoir, as Elie recovers from starvation, he summons the energy to get up and look at himself in the mirror. He recounts that
"from the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me" (119).
If you want a longer excerpt, in Chapter 3, Wiesel foreshadows his own emotional death through his "Never shall I forget" passage (43) in which he confesses that his God has been murdered.
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