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Writers often return to images throughout the course of a story to give the reader a sense of continuity. It is a common technique in many forms art, including poetry, fiction, and film. In the book Night, Elie Wiesel uses metaphorical flame imagery to create unity.
Relatively early in the book, as the Jews of Sighet are being transported by train from their home to the first of several concentration camps, a minor character named Mrs. Schachter begins screaming, “Jews, look! Look at the fire! Look at the flames!” When the Jews look, there are no flames. This happens several times on the journey. The last time, as they arrive at Auschwitz, they finally see the flames that Mrs. Schachter foreshadowed.
Later, Wiesel includes a sort of poem in the middle of the narrative to describe the lasting effect of the experience on him. One of the lines is, “Never shall I forget the flames that consumed my soul forever.”
A little further on, Wiesel gives us another metaphorical flame image: “A dark flame had entered my soul and devoured it.”
By returning again and again to the flame and fire imagery, Wiesel keeps the destructive and dehumanizing nature of the ordeal at the forefront of the readers’ minds.
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