As with much of Night, it is not hard to find examples of hopelessness and death.
In chapter 6, the prisoners are forced to run through the snow by their Nazi captors. A Polish prisoner named Zalman who Elie has spoken with in the past suddenly gets severe stomach cramps and can run no longer. He collapses, then dies while being trampled by the other prisoners. Elie admits that even though he was encouraging Zalman to continue moments ago, he quickly stopped thinking about him and focused once again on himself.
Another grim facet of this march is how many sons abandon their fathers. Elie points out that no one says Kaddish over these corpses and that everyone seems to be letting go of familial loyalty in their quest for self-preservation.
At the beginning of chapter 7, Elie notes that the prisoners are beginning to lose hope of rescue from the Allied forces. He claims their minds are "numb with indifference" and that they are slowly starting to resign themselves to either freezing to death, starving, or collapsing from exhaustion or bullet wounds.
In chapter 8, Elie is faithful to his father and gives the ailing man his own food; however, he does it grudgingly. He despairs that he feels this resentment against his father, the man he is staying alive for.
His father is also mistreated by the other prisoners, who no longer have enough pity for anyone. His illness, moans, and inability to take himself outside to relieve himself cause the other prisoners to mock both Elie and his father. Elie's father eventually dies and when it happens, Elie feels more relieved than grieved, a fact which makes him experience immense guilt.
However, there are moments of hope to be found in these chapters as well. Sometimes, they even blend with the hopeless moments.
During the forced march in chapter 6, Elie says he keeps himself going so he can be there for his father. He claims he has no right to die so long as his aging father needs him by his side.
Elie also encounters Rabbi Eliahu during this march. The rabbi is searching for his son, but Elie saw the rabbi's son abandoning his father as the older man lagged behind. This sad event inspires a prayer in Elie: he asks God to give him the inner strength to stay beside his father and never abandon him no matter what happens.
The character of the rabbi himself is also hopeful. Elie says Eliahu inspires respect due to his gracious and kind spirit. He retains these qualities even in the dire circumstances of prison camp existence.
Also in chapter 6, Juliek continues to play Beethoven on his violin late into the night, even though by morning he is dead and his violin is destroyed. His choice to keep the violin with him shows a sense of perseverance in spite of the way the Nazis dehumanize him.
And even though Elie despairs at how much he resents his dying father in the older man's final days, his conduct is still mostly admirable. He gives the old man food and gets him coffee. He stays by him regardless of the temptation to let him die alone.
Not surprisingly, there are several examples of hopelessness and death in the final four sections of Elie Wiesel's memoir Night. The sections focus on the deportation from Buna, Elie's father's death and the liberation of Buchenwald.
The forced march from Buna to Gleiwitz provides several examples of death and despair. The SS promptly shoot any man who cannot not keep up with the furious pace as the prisoners are stampeded in frozen conditions. When Zalman stops to relieve himself he is trampled. Elie, whose foot had recently undergone surgery, can barely hang on and begins to lose hope:
Death wrapped itself around me till I was stifled. It stuck to me. I felt that I could touch it. The idea of dying, of no longer being, began to fascinate me. Not to feel the horrible pains in my foot. Not to feel anything. To break the ranks, to let oneself slide to edge of the road...
Fortunately, Elie avoids sinking into hopelessness as he remembers his father and that he must stay alive in order to look after him. Running blindly, pushed along by the mob of men behind them, Elie and his father survive and reach Gleiwitz.
After Gleiwitz the Jews are transported by train to Buchenwald. They are given no rations, no bread, soup or even water. Once in awhile they stop the train to throw out the dead men. Sometimes they stop near towns where the German townspeople throw pieces of bread into the wagons so they can witness the men scramble and fight each other, often to the death, just for a morsel of food. A son descends upon his father and kills him in order to get the bread he has hidden in his shirt.
Examples of hope and life are much harder to come by in these sections. One example is the poignant story of Juliek, who has somehow saved his violin in the crush of men as they finally reach the barracks at Gleiwitz. Elie reports that he hears Juliek playing a fragment of a Beethoven concerto that night:
I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget that concert, given to an audience of dead and dying men! To this day, whenever I hear Beethoven played my eyes close and out of the dark rises the sad, pale face of my Polish friend, as he said farewell on his violin to an audience of dying men.
Another example comes from an unexpected source, the SS. On the march, as men slip into apathy and begin to give up, the SS motorcycle officers ride by and shout encouragement to the men that they are almost at their destination and not to surrender. Elie writes,
These words of encouragement, even though they came from the mouths of our assassins, did us a great deal of good.
During the deportations, Elie does his best to aid his father. When they are leaving Gleiwitz and his father is selected for death, Elie pursues him and in the confusion is able to save not only his father but several other men as they are pushed back to the right. During this selection, right meant survival and left meant liquidation. When Elie's father comes down with dysentery, the son does his best to comfort the father. At one point he brings him a cup of coffee:
With those few gulps of hot water, I probably brought him more satisfaction than I had done during my whole childhood.
Unfortunately, Elie is not able to do enough as his father dies that night. It is a relief for Elie. He writes that he was "free at last" from the constant worry about his father's fate.