In the novel, Night, what is the significance of Wiesel's use of imagery; what is his purpose in using imagery?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eli Wiesel, in his novel, Night, uses vivid imagery in order to more accurately convey the horrific ordeals he, his family and other oppressed people suffered at the hands of the Germans in World War II.

Wiesel's imagery first sets the tone and mood of the book. From the start, there is little hope to be found within the book's pages. The speaker struggles to come to terms with the savagery and even the naiveté of those around him. As the story progresses, it is evident that Wiesel is trying to help the reader see the world at that time, in that place, as it truly was through imagery.

He writes:

Night. No one prayed, so that the night would pass quickly. The stars were only sparks of the fire which devoured us. Should that fire die out one day, there would be nothing left in the sky but dead stars, dead eyes.

The title of the book is found early in the novel in this passage. The hopelessness of these people is conveyed through something as simple, yet powerful, as stars. The use of the stars in terms of fire is almost prophetic as fire becomes the end for some people as they first enter the camps. The imagery of dead eyes demonstrates not only foreshadowing in the death of so many, but also in the loss of spirit and self in those who survived.

Even Wiesel himself might be described when referring to "dead eyes" at the story's end. The last two lines read:

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.

This powerful imagery lives on with the reader, as the experience lived on in the author. This is the power of the imagery used.

The purpose of Wiesel's vivid imagery is to bring home to the reader what transpired during the Holocaust: in order for us to believe, to remember and honor those lost, to honor those who were able to survive, and to teach the world so that something like this might never occur again.